Sportsmanship lacking at WU

Timothy L. Roe

I was disappointed, somewhat shocked and, at times, embarrassed last Saturday night. The Meyer Sports Center at Southwest Baptist University is a beautiful facility that would allow one to show off all the best of the school. This past weekend however, you badly missed the mark. Let me make my perspective clear – I am not a student, nor a parent. I am simply an avid follower of Washburn basketball. In addition, I am a Christian. I am writing this letter in hopes of effecting change in Bolivar, as well as preventing the same sort of behavior in Topeka.

I have been to almost all of the away games that Washburn has played this year, and I must tell you, the worst behaved group of students I have witnessed was at Bolivar this past weekend. Now, don’t misinterpret what I’m telling you. Other schools have had very spirited, loud and enthusiastic student sections, but none were as negative and as intentionally derogatory as Southwest Baptist’s. I was appalled when the majority of the students actually yelled ‘boo’ when our teams came on the floor. I can understand the frustration, although not the behavior, toward our dominate and undefeated women’s basketball team. But when the crowd supporting the men’s basketball team, currently in first place, ‘boos’ the team in the next to last position in the conference, it is demonstrating nothing but poor sportsmanship and bad leadership.

I mention leadership, because clearly someone in a position of authority had their hand in the actions that I observed Saturday evening. Prior to the games, someone came out to the student section and handed out team ‘away’ jerseys to the lead instigators of the behaviors that I am questioning. What are those behaviors? In addition to the booing of the teams, consistently yelling “Whoopi Goldberg” to our crossover football-basketball player Michael Odupitan, who happens to wear his hair in braids, and the student who dressed as a blind referee. Since when did it become OK to include physical handicaps in the area of acceptable fun-making? Although I am unaware of what was said, I do know that at least one of the officials and one individual with school security spoke to the students to no avail. I guess they felt as long as their behaviors weren’t clearly racist or sexist, then everything would be acceptable.

I mentioned earlier that I was a Christian. It was for this reason that I decided to write. As the only “Christian” university in the conference, I would hope that they would hold their university to an even higher standard than the rest. Clearly, that was not the case last Saturday – as I stated, the worst behavior I have witnessed. The students should not endeavor to see “how much they can get away with” as they cheer on their teams. They should be enthusiastic, loud and maybe even a little rowdy and raucous. But positive and encouraging. Not negative and never derogatory.

Timothy L. Roe

Washburn Athletics