Oct 5 / jmusport

Guest Post: As Fans, We Need to Clean Up Our Act

Brandon Newbill won our predictions contest last week and earned the right to guest post. This one will touch a nerve with some, but we want to go on the record saying we agree with him. We all should be a little more mindful of how our behavior impacts others and reflects upon JMU.

At the ripe old age of 33, I realize I am quickly becoming one of those “get off my lawn” type of guys. If you’ve ever seen the South Park where all music sounds like crap to Stan, that’s pretty much me.  That being said, and amidst another great football season for the Dukes, I want to use this opportunity to address something that bothers me about our fan base.  

Our business school has a great reputation.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met people in the business world and when we discuss where we went to school I’ve heard something along the lines of “JMU, yea I heard they have a great business school there.  We hire a lot of those folks”.  They aren’t basing that statement on Business Week rankings or where JMU ranks in Playboy’s list of party schools (RIP Hugh Hefner). They are basing their opinion on real world experiences and interactions with JMU Dukes.  I’m sure other JMU grads have similar experiences regardless of their major.  I wish the same could be said about our football fan base.

I had the absolute pleasure of traveling to Fargo last year for the national semi-final.  From enjoying the crowded downtown bar scene the night before, to a crowded B-Dubs right by the stadium first thing in the morning on game day, to tailgating in negative wind chill temps, to attending one of the most riveting games I’ve seen in a while, to celebrating in downtown Fargo afterwards, not a single ill-spoken word was directed my way.  Not a single line of trash talk, not a single person calling me fat, not a single comment about being a grown man wearing purple, nothing.  Nada.  In fact, the exact opposite occurred.  In the middle of a packed B-Dubs at 11AM on game day, we tried to push our way up to the already three deep bar to get a beer.  No dice.  Next thing I know, I get tapped on the shoulder and an older gentleman decked out in NDSU gear said “come sit with us”.  Him and his buddy stood up from their table to give us their seats, then proceeded to buy us beers and shots.  As more JMU folks arrived, more Bison fans gave up their seats and made sure JMU fans were taken care of.  At the tailgate, we couldn’t walk past a tailgate without someone either pulling us into a heated tent to warm up or onto one of their party buses for a few tasty beverages.  Even the belligerent students would stop us as we passed by and commented on how awesome it was that we made the trip.  

Now I know what you’re all doing.  You’re sitting there saying to yourself “yea, that’s how we are too”.  The problem is, no, that’s not how (most) JMU fans are.  I can already hear the “well anyone is welcome at my P-Lot tailgate anytime bro” crowd.   The problem is our reputation as fans is that we are a bunch of obnoxious, self-righteous a-holes and as most of you know, right or wrong, perception to most is reality.  Therefore, even if you mean well, you’re probably lumped in with the bad ones.  Don’t believe me?  Go online, not to our own message boards, but to the message boards of other schools.  We have folks that go over there and troll teams that we aren’t even playing and act like a bunch of adolescent bullies.  Attend a JMU game at Richmond or William and Mary.  Yea, I hate those guys too, but you can root without being condescending or sophomoric, especially to your elders.  Heck, I even sat in the “young alumni” section at the ECU game and even they behaved better than (some of) our folks do.  Deny it until  your death if you want, but a lot of people that are reading this are contributing to our fan base’s poor reputation, whether you want to admit it or not.  I’m no saint either.  I’m guilty of doing some of the same stuff I just mentioned.  But my experience at NDSU really has made me want to be a better fan.  Let’s all do better JMU.  



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  1. Randy Thompson / Oct 5 2017

    Could not agree more brother. At the youthful age of just 61, my experience in Fargo last year changed how I view fans of opposing teams. Let’s let the
    “JMU hold the door for you” mentality carry over to game day and how we treat our guests.

  2. delonerm / Oct 5 2017

    Great post!

  3. Totally Agree / Oct 5 2017

    Totally agree. I had posted similar comments on the JMU Nation Facebook page earlier this week.

  4. HH / Oct 5 2017

    I was very surprised by the behavior of many JMU fans at the ECU game this year. Dozens of student aged fans appeared to spend more time looking at and pointed at the ECU fan section to our left than watching the game. The ECU section looked at our fans like we were idiots. It was embarrassing.

  5. zac / Oct 5 2017

    I’m not sure where you guys sat at ECU, but we had old people literally walking down 3 rows to get in my wife’s face and yell at her. Then they sent police to check our tickets. We moved to be further away from the ECU fans. They were the worst.

  6. Tripp / Oct 5 2017

    Excellent post! I think perhaps part of the problem we face at JMU is that we don’t get a lot of opposing teams’ fans traveling to games, and of the ones that do (in my VERY limited interactions with them) are the “obnoxious, annoying” types. I know I have been made salty by poor interactions with opposing teams fans, especially as an MRD at W&M and RU getting things thrown at us, but I, like you, look at those and think, we cannot stoop to that level and take that to heart in my interactions with opposing teams’ fans now. Let’s hope that the rest of JMU nation reads your post!

  7. John Connor / Oct 5 2017

    Brandon, I couldn’t agree more. I took my wife and college-age son to Fargo and their fans rolled out the red carpet for us and every JMU fan we spoke with. At UNC last season, their fans couldn’t have been nicer. We were looking for a parking lot to meet up with friends and someone literally walked us around the stadium and out to the lot. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting other schools like Nebraska and Texas A&M where their fans behaved the same way towards visiting fans and left being completely impressed. As a visiting fan leaving the aforementioned schools we felt the same way, “wow!, what great people- I sure would love to come back…”

    JMU is a special place. Many of us chose JMU because “it felt like home” and we boast of how friendly and polite the people are on campus. Shouldn’t we leave visiting fans with that same impression? It can be the best advertising for JMU and it’s FREE! We should treat visiting fans like guests at our home. Roll out the “purple carpet” and make visitors feel welcome. Whether our teams win or lose We have an opportunity to leave a positive impression on our guests that will last longer than the memory of which team was victorious. We should hold ourselves to higher standard. Go Dukes!

  8. KB / Oct 5 2017

    I believe a lot of the negative “rep” comes from out visiting fans section being so near to the student section. Drunk students have a tendency to be obnoxious and rude.

    I’m not sure what the answer is. The worst visiting treatment I’ve ever received has been at UR, W&M, ODU, and VCU….in that order.

  9. Pitz / Oct 5 2017

    Every student fan base has loud a-holes. Every old alumni tailgate has nice hospitable fans. Anything else is just splitting hairs with anecdotal stories. Walk through an NDSU tailgate with a Jackrabbits sweatshirt when South Dakota State is in town and let me know how that goes.

    I’ve seen the Bisonville forums. They’re not wearing any behavioral halo when it comes to Jackrabbit memes.

  10. ShadyP / Oct 5 2017

    I think you can always find a few fans that go over-board and there is not much that can be done about that particularly with some students and others who imbibe a bit too much at times.

    But I have to agree with ‘KB’ above nothing I have seen at JMU comes close to the BS I have personally encountered with my family at W&M from middle aged guys who were of the opinion my family had no right to sit in a non-JMU section (which was right beside the JMU section).

    I agree with the intent of the post, but I think it is a bit of a mountain out of a mole hill scenario in my opinion.

  11. Nick / Oct 5 2017

    I agree with ShadyP as far as the intent of the post…I’ve met rude fans and rude alumni from almost every school. To say people could do better – well yeah that’s human nature, you should want to do better in work/family/life. I don’t think it’s an issue of JMU fans doing better per say- it’s all people doing better at not being internet tough guys and obnoxious fans. It’s the awesome power and frustrating truth of the internet/world – if you’re an ass you can find someone that agrees with you and someone you can annoy.

    Also…all music is crap these days.

  12. T2008 / Oct 5 2017

    Love the message behind this post – we should strive to be the kind of fan base you talked about, kind and welcoming to our guests in victory and defeat. It is a game, one we all really enjoy and are passionate about, but it’s just a game. So love that and agree completely. I didn’t get the pleasure of going to NDSU but from what I’ve heard they seem like model fans overall so that’s great.

    That being said, I think your comparisons to other games are a bit unfair, seeing as you mentioned a load of games like ECU, UNC, and even NDSU, all of whom are playing in games they expect to win against a team they don’t really know or have any animosity towards. How often do you see us fired up and angry at morehead state or central Connecticut? William and Mary and especially Richmond are definitely not the way you described them most of the time. Sure there are less students at games so less obnoxious drunk people, but come on, they aren’t the saints you painted them to be. A sixty plus year old man (child might be more appropriate) told me at the 2004 playoff game at W&M that it was the only time my dumb ass would ever get in that school. And Richmond fans went through our apartment complex at JMU and vandalised them, including ripping down homecoming banners that were out. So I’m not saying they are all hellions, they aren’t, but neither are we. Others have said it, but the truth is every school has good fans and bad and all you are going to get are individual experiences that vary by when and where people are while visiting. When Sam Houston State was in town last year and years ago when App State visited I heard multiple fans complement how nice everyone was.

    So I love the message and think we should always strive to be the fans you talked about, but I don’t think we are as far from it as you say in this post. Great post though, let’s keep rooting, respectfully.

  13. OBXDuke1983 / Oct 5 2017

    Thanks for the thought provoking post.
    I watched the Delaware game with a friend that is a huge Richmond fan and alum. He had given me his season tickets to the Richmond game last year because he wasn’t going to be in town. So, I was smack dab in the middle of the old Richmond season ticket holder section. I was extremely respectful of their fans while at the same time cheering on the Dukes. After thanking him again for the tickets I was telling him how surprised I was at how unfriendly the people around us were. His response actually surprised me because of how friendly and respectful I have in my head that JMU students and alum are. His response was how obnoxiously many JMU fans are when they come to their stadium (home). When I pressed for examples, he said that the first season at their new stadium (something they had wanted for years and were very proud of) at the JMU game, JMU fans were walking around making comments like “nice stadium, what high school plays here”. Maybe funny, but unoriginal and obnoxious. He said they have grown used to that from JMU fans more than from any others.
    I know that is the way most JMU fans are, but we should do our best to represent JMU the way we want to be viewed. If you see a JMU fan acting like a jackass, say something. If we have guests to our school, make them feel welcome. (Let the team kick ass on the field) Make the guests feel like we do every time we have the privilege to step on the JMU campus.
    Go Dukes!

  14. Mike Ritter / Oct 5 2017

    You are exactly right. I went to North Dakota and could not believe how friendly and gracious their fans were. The true test is when you lose and all they did was show their class. Never once claiming they lost the game but instead telling we were beaten by the better team. I had at least 100 of their fans come up to congratulate me. I think on the most part we have great fans but it wasn’t until I went to Fargo that I experienced what great fans truly are and we should learn from them!!

  15. OBXDuke1983 / Oct 5 2017

    I meant to say NOT the way most fans…

  16. DeezNuts / Oct 5 2017

    Bro anyone is welcome at my P-Lot tailgate anytime! You right though. It’s much more fun to play against a friendly fan base.

  17. Mike in OHio / Oct 5 2017

    This is an interesting post with some good discussion. Guess my first reaction was to be a little defensive about it as I would not want to say that JMU fans are rude to visiting teams fans to the point of it being some place that visitors would avoid. But I have never seen what is being referred to here and don’t really see much opportunity for it at JMU home games. Students sit at the opposite end of the field from visiting fans with old folks sitting in between them so probably not much chance of interaction during a game. And when I come to games I sit in the upper deck on the home side and while people cheer up there, it is not what I would call a rabid fan section and when there does happen to be a visiting team fan up there, I have never heard rude remarks made. At the tailgating, I park in the convo lot and never see any visiting team fans parking there and in the student lot, I doubt that any visiting fans end up parking there. So I just don’t see a lot of what is being referred to as rude JMU behavior although i am sure there are some people who drink too much and get obnoxious or who just make rude remarks. I don’t see it as much of a problem or really a problem at all. If you want to see rude fan behavior come spend a Saturday in Columbus at Ohio State games. Each year after Michigan plays here or when another big name team comes here, there is always a letter to the paper from a visiting fan who complains about how rudely they were treated here. And instead of feeling apologetic about it, Ohio State fans write back in response telling the visitors to tough it up and they wonder why they should expect anything else Hell I wear my JMU jersey around town on JMU game days just to combat the Buckeye-centric view around here and I get rude remarks made at me from just walking around in it. As for UR complaining about JMU fan behavior, they are basically just annoyed that they have all of this football history and that JMU has caught up with them on the field and kind of surpassed them in fan support, as if anyone in Richmond has ever really cared about the University of Richmond. So while UR fans might encounter a rude remark or two I think most of their complaining is just being jealous. If you ever go on their football discussion board they spend about 1/3 of their time focusing on how they dislike JMU. So like some others have written, the idea of the post is good and it did generate a lot of discussion but I don’t see it as any real problem that needs any kind of action. As a JMU grad, we seem to be pretty laid back about sports in general….like it when they win but if not, well we’re indifferent and as a Harrisonburg native, we’re pretty blasé and while we are positively inclined towards JMU, we aren’t rabid fans of it. At least not enough to put the energy into treating people from out of town rudely.

  18. Dukes4 / Oct 6 2017

    Agree with Mike in Ohio,” As a JMU grad we (YOU) seem pretty laid back about sports in general” and “as a Harrisonburg native, we’re pretty blasé “.
    I moved seats this year to get away from the locals who think that anyone screaming GO DUKES is out of place in a football stadium. Like sitting next to band parents. Keep rootin….loud but not obnoxious.

  19. Ken / Oct 6 2017

    You can root w/out being a jerk. When I was at the JMU – UofL Field Hockey game I felt compelled sound off with a couple ‘Hey, now”s toward some of the JMU parents. Their rooting changed in tenor as the game began to turn in favor of Louisville — from encouraging the team to becoming more focused on the officials and the perceived inequity of calls from the on-field umpires. Really sucked the enjoyment out of watching the Dukes. The girls didn’t play well, looked tired and sluggish, and got beat. It wasn’t the umpires’ fault

    I’m far from perfect, but am working on being a better fan.

    Go Dukes!

  20. Brooks Lyles , Class of 80 / Oct 6 2017

    I have to agree, but admit it is based on the two games I attended last year. I live in Kansas and made the trips to Fargo and Frisco. In Fargo we were treated well and those who attended behaved well. The NDSU crowd were welcoming and very smart football fans.
    Some of the stuff I saw while tailgating in Frisco though was less than stellar and the way some folks left the parking lot trashed was very disappointing.
    The Dukes deserve our support and we should try to keep our conduct as classy as Coach Houston and the players do on the field and in the community!

  21. Bill and Beth Himelright / Oct 6 2017

    My wife and I were both at the NDSU game last year and their fans were unbelievably nice.
    In all our years of being involved in sporting events we have never been treated better by an opposing team. They really made us look at how we behave and want to treat visiting teams and our own fans for that matter. I wish everyone could experience the culture they promote. Thank you NDSU fans!

  22. Herb / Oct 10 2017

    Well, I haven’t seen the bad side of our fans. I have had season tickets for 20+ years. What I haven’t seen from our fans is what I saw at W&M a few years ago. A student parading in front of our fans with a sign that said “Madison was my safe school”. I thought: typical W&M….exclusive school. So if we are ugly to W&M or Richmond, I am okay with that. Go Dukes>

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