Time To Bring Aloha Back To Stadium
Wednesday - November 21, 2007
The highs and lows of a roller coaster football season for the University of Hawaii will reach its highest point this Friday night (Nov. 23) when the Warriors faced defending WAC-champion Boise State. The conference title - we assume - will be on the line and a sell-out is already guaranteed.
We already know that the players and coaches are prepared for the game - but are the fans? And how about the security at Aloha Stadium?
With huge crowds and intense rivalries comes tension. Never was that more evident than the scene that played out in front of me when I attended the last home game - Hawaii vs. Fresno State - on Nov. 10.
I sat with a good friend from the Mainland in the North end-zone. Just in front of our seats was the visitor’s section. Throughout much of the second half, we watched as a little drama played out between Bulldog and Warrior fans in that corner of the stadium - it was a drama filled with yelling and taunting and the throwing of objects, some pushing and shoving, and eventually the police.
I couldn’t see exactly what started it all, but an Internet message board contributor from Fresno State (Chris Housepian, who goes by the moniker “ChrisDog”) made these comments that made their way rapidly across the country on several Internet sites -including bark-board.com, scout.com and hawaiireporter.com:
“The good news: my family and I are now back home in California and had a great 5 days in Hawaii. The bad news? Fights, alcohol, lax security, and thug fans have turned Aloha Stadium into what is likely the most horrible game day atmosphere in college football. Let me stress that I am no stranger to hostile athletic environments. I’ve been to games at LSU, USC, UCLA, Oregon etc., but I have NEVER seen visiting fans treated like we were on Saturday night. Hopefully something can be done before someone gets seriously hurt.”
Later, “ChrisDog” appeared again on the message boards and said he had received apologies from Hawaii and WAC officials, but after hearing criticism about broadly painting a negative picture of the entire Hawaii football experience, he opined that he wasn’t condemning everyone at the game - “it wasn’t even 5% of the crowd. I had a great time in Hawaii and enjoyed watching the Dogs and Warriors play.”
I can’t speak to the veracity of all that he wrote. He was in the fray - I was watching from afar. I don’t like some of what he said - most notably some of the ethnic characterizations were out of line - but I appreciate the fact that he’s brought the problems encountered when you have a huge crowd out into the open.
For the next several days, I heard listeners to local call-in radio shows speak about their negative experiences at the stadium during the same game. Big crowds mixed with lots of alcohol and a violent, intense game sometimes brings out the worst in some people.
So what do we do as we get ready for the Boise State game? It’s another huge crowd, another intense rivalry, and I haven’t read anywhere that alcohol has been banned.
The answer is twofold: good security and fan responsibility.
Aloha Stadium officials need to recognize that the atmosphere is ripe for taunting and possibly more. There’s nothing wrong with beefing up their security and police visibility in and around the visitors’ section.
But the biggest responsibility rests with us, as fans. We need to police ourselves. Let’s do our yelling and cheering directed at the field, not at each other in the stands.
We need to remember that what goes on here - even when it goes on from just “5 percent” of us - reflects on all of us. As much as I hate to say this, Hawaii’s reputation in the eyes of those who visit here is at stake.
Let’s make things perfectly clear as we watch our beloved team ring up another big win. Be responsible, and bring back the aloha to Aloha Stadium.
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