Things are about to get interesting in the stands at Boston University this season, as the school’s Dean of Students, Kenneth Elmore, has announced a new policy to kick out of the rink those who use swear words, racist or sexist comments.
It’s only the latest volley fired in a battle that has raged for years at BU and revolves primarily around fans’ use of the third of George Carlin’s “Seven Words You Can’t Say On Television” to attack rival Boston College, whether the Terriers are playing BC that night or not. Apparently the obscenities launched at BC during the Eagles’ 5-0 trouncing of BU in the NCAA Northeast Regional last March got the attention of everyone including the NCAA itself, and as a result the administration at BU is taking its crackdown to a new level. Several requests over the years even from revered head coach Jack Parker to the fan base have gone largely ignored, so the administration hopes the threat of being booted from the rink will do the trick.
At first glance, this is an issue that just doesn’t seem that important, yet it garnered a segment of its own on a popular afternoon drive time AM radio talk show in the Hub yesterday. Is this a battle the BU administration can even win? Once you start down this road, where do you stop? With students who regularly attend sporting events ranking among the most loyal supporters later on as alumni, is BU shooting itself in the foot with some of its potential future donors? But what about today’s alumni, who already give a lot of money and have a right to expect that when they attend a game at their alma mater — often with their spouse and young children — that they won’t have to deal with things like this? And what about fans like the BU student quoted in the Globe piece, who said “sports won’t be fun anymore” if the crackdown on profanity succeeds — does it have to involve profanity to be fun?
Overall, this has been going on for so many years that it’s probably less of a surprise that BU made this move than that it took them this long. Still, you have to wonder what’s going to happen the first time they make the decision to kick someone out — particularly with BU’s Agganis Arena being one of the few college hockey rinks left where alcohol is served to patrons. Somehow I don’t think this is the last chapter to be written in this story.