McFeely: Some North Dakota State Bison fans are jerks, but they’re not alone

FARGO -- A Facebook post indicating some Northern Iowa fans and ESPN staff departing Fargo on a plane after the Panthers' loss to North Dakota State were overheard making comments about "how they wished the Bison fans would've treated them better...

FARGO -- A Facebook post indicating some Northern Iowa fans and ESPN staff departing Fargo on a plane after the Panthers’ loss to North Dakota State were overheard making comments about “how they wished the Bison fans would’ve treated them better in the stands” is making the rounds, garnering about 2,300 shares by Tuesday afternoon.
“They were taken aback at the negative words directed their way,” Dan Huber of Fargo wrote in the post.
“The ESPN rep said, unfortunately they noticed the same thing as they walked around, and said they have followed the team for years and they have noticed an increase in poor behavior by Bison fans towards the opposing team’s fans,” Huber wrote.
I was alerted to the post Sunday and again Monday morning when listeners of my radio show on 970 WDAY-AM sent links.
There were two schools of thought from people who sent messages:
See, this proves Bison fans are insufferable jerks and somebody needs to put them in their place. Somebody needs to alert the Bison athletic administration because these fans are giving NDSU and Fargo a bad name.
I believe I can address both these concerns with the same response:
Every fan base of every team in every sport in every country in the world has louts.
There is nothing anybody can do about it, other than tell the lout to shut their mouth or, if the situation warrants, alert a security guard. Them’s the facts, friends. It’s just the way it is.
NDSU has bad fans, Northern Iowa has bad fans, the Minnesota Vikings have bad fans. They are everywhere. Heck, teams in North Dakota Class B have bad fans because Region 1 just implemented a “yellow card” policy to deal with obnoxious clowns at high school games.
Every team has them. The percentage of them rises with (big picture) success and (small picture) alcohol consumption, but anytime sports are involved, there are going to be jerks.

None of this is meant to excuse what might have happened at the Bison game against Northern Iowa. If NDSU fans were verbally abusing UNI fans, they were wrong. They shouldn’t do it.
Are Bison fans, as a group, cockier than the fan base of a perennial 6-5 team? By my observation, sure. Are they, as a group, more arrogant? Perhaps. Are some delusional as to which teams the Bison could compete against? No question.
Does this make them different than any other fans of any other ultra-successful sports team? Nope.
But to draw a conclusion that NDSU fans are any more hostile and abusive than anybody else’s fans is painting with an awfully broad brush.
Here’s a quick personal story involving my wife and daughter, that coincidentally involves UNI.
Michelle and Emma, Bison fans both, traveled to Cedar Falls last season for the Bison-Panthers game. They went online to buy tickets. Their seats were located smack-dab in a UNI section, of course.
Michelle said the fans around them spent the game screaming profanity and insults at NDSU players and cheerleaders, which was an eye-opener for then-13-year-old Emma. But these things happen.
Things turned nasty in the fourth quarter when it became clear UNI was going win and end NDSU’s record 33-game winning streak. Emma was doing what distraught young fans do, trying to exhort the Bison to a victory.
That’s when a middle-aged woman sitting nearby began to taunt her.
“Oh, no. Is your team going to lose? Oh, that’s too bad. What are you going to do?”
Emma - remember, she was 13 - became visibly upset. So the taunting intensified.
“Oh, are you going to cry now? Oh, poor girl. Your team is going to lose? Oh no.”
This is when my wife unleashed verbiage unfit to print and some UNI fans near the woman told her to shut up.
It was an ugly moment unacceptable by decent people. But to say every UNI fan is like that, or that they are all out of control is silly. The same way it’s stupid to say NDSU’s fan base is nothing but a collection of thugs and toughs.
What can be done about it?
Less alcohol consumption would probably help, but there is one simple fact that makes the idealistic goal of eliminating bad fans hopeless.
You can’t fix stupid.

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