Column: 'F--k Duke' shirts disgrace Maryland fans

This past baseball season, a handful of Seattle Mariners fans were stopped at the gate and told that they would not be allowed inside unless they covered up the "Yankees Suck" T-shirts that they were wearing.

"This is about appropriate behavior," Mariners spokeswoman Rebecca Hale told the Associated Press. "We have a code of conduct, a policy for language on clothing and banners and signs. Our feeling was this was not promoting what we want."

A bit over the top? Perhaps. But at least the idea was noble. Most organizations like to think that their fans act in respectable manners, and every sports team tries to maintain a family atmosphere at its stadium, arena or field.

Well, all but one.

Welcome to the Comcast Center, a brand new building residing on the campus of the University of Maryland. Comcast, not as in a Comcast family with a long legacy at the school, but rather Comcast Cable, the company to which the school sold out.

The arena was wonderfully designed, with student seating surrounding the perimeter of the court as well as forming a "wall" behind the opponent's second-half basket. Bringing the students close to the action is usually an admirable goal, but at Maryland, there's one catch.

The court isn't simply surrounded by students. It's surrounded by "F--k Duke" T-shirts as well-except many replace the dashes with a 'u' and a 'c'.

Saturday's Duke-Maryland game should have let the nation see Maryland students' excitement and energy, but as far as ABC was concerned, the risk was too great to take.

Before the game, network executives informed Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow that they would have to limit crowd shots due to the fact that it was incredibly difficult to find an area without that magic four letter word.

For the school, this was probably a blessing in disguise. One assumes that the school would rather be known for mottos such as "Go Terps" or even "Duke sucks," something PG-13 at worst.

But even without the airtime, Terp fans did their part to get their profanity on the air; "F--k Duke, clap, clap" became a chant that was repeated several times during the game, effectively adding more "color" to the broadcast than ABC's color man, Dick Vitale.

Maryland fans' image is already less than sparkling. Two years ago, the mother of Duke center Carlos Boozer was hit in the head by a full water bottle after the Blue Devils beat the Terrapins in overtime. Maryland students have rioted following big wins and losses, one time causing over $500,000 in damages. The school has been trying to reverse this trend and clean up its image. Having your student body decked out in profanity doesn't help.

After the incident involving Renee Boozer, Yow, President C.D. Mote and head coach Gary Williams wrote open letters to the Maryland community, asking for the fans to correct their behavior.

"The chant of F--- Duke must stop," Williams wrote. "There are young kids at the game, plus most adults find the cheer objectionable, plus it shows a lack of class."

The pleas have been made-and ignored. It's time for Maryland to start monitoring what its students wear inside the Comcast Center, or else risk what to some may seem impossible: watching its fans' reputation grow even worse.

Evan Davis is a Trinity senior and senior associate sports editor. His column appears every Wednesday.


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