It's hard to put your finger on what exactly counts as good sportsmanship today. Booing, yelling obscenities and taunting the opposing team's players and coaching staff is an accepted practice at every major sporting event you can go to, especially when it comes to college athletics.
However, there is a point that goes too far. West Virginia's student newspaper, The Daily Athenaeum, has a section that appears among their sports content on the day of home games. This section is titled "Mountaineer Musings" and breaks out a few of the opposing teams players. This section is not created by the paper, but by a student group called the Mountaineer Maniacs who claim to be the "premiere student group for Mountaineer athletics." The paper, however, runs its own sports content around the spot in the paper, but after the Iowa State Daily called the Daily Athenaeum, they stated that they have a deal with the student organization and do not edit the Musings' content except for grammar.
The group's section names a "Bum of the Game" from the away team and offers cheers for specific players. Iowa State, which plays West Virginia Monday night, is the current target of the section. The Mountaineer Maniacs named Deandre Kane as the "Bum of Game" and told the student section to boo him, they suggested that students cheer "Your brother's better" whenever Dustin Hogue touches the ball and talk about how Georges Niang cried after "he allowed an Aaron Craft three-pointer to beat them in the NCAA Tourney."
This group has done this to other teams as well and the Daily Athenaeum said this is the second year they have partnered with the Mountaineer Maniacs for the section.
It is interesting to note that the group responsible for making this section is part of the Student Government Association and is supervised by their university's division of student affairs.
Let's be fair, Iowa State is not free of blame. We often boo the other team and could certainly improve our own sportsmanship. However, for a student organization to create what they call "cheer sheets" that specifically target and belittle players in the student newspaper before the game even begins is something the university and its student section should be ashamed of encouraging. Because that is exactly what they are doing, encouraging unsportsmanlike conduct. In fact, it's not just encouragement, it's organization. The Mountaineer Maniacs "About Us" portion of their website tells students to pick up the cheer sheets to "better organize the already intimidating atmosphere."
The main thing here is that this student organization that is supervised by their university should work harder on creating an "intimidating atmosphere" by working toward supportive cheers of their own players. Athletics has taken an unsavory turn in the last few years that focuses on embarrassing and bullying the opposing players.
The Mountaineer Musings section also states "Let's show Iowa State and ESPNU what a real student section looks like and who the Mountaineer Maniacs are!"
Well, the Mountain Maniacs have certainly shown their true colors.
To Iowa State, we simply say, don't stoop to their level. Support our players and do exactly what they say they are trying to do, show what a real student section looks like. The Mountaineer Maniacs have chosen a classless approach to sportsmanship, but the Iowa State Cyclones don't have to go that same route.