- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 3, 2001

What's all this then? "Hooliganism" among exuberant fans of the University of Maryland basketball team? Thus did C.D. Mote, president of the College Park campus describe the fracas recently at Cole Field House during the visit of the Duke University Blue Devils, when apparently some undergraduates bombarded Duke fans with various missiles, hard and soft. This included, according to dispatches from the front, felling the mother of one Duke player with a partially filled plastic water bottle, leaving her with a mild concussion and a gash. Several other parents of Duke athletes were also pelted.

This exhibition of partisanship is not the first such eruption, and apparently it is not restricted to Maryland. Other schools in the Atlantic Coast Conference reportedly are prone to such displays of pride, so to speak. But College Park is reputed to be especially boisterous in its pride of its student-athletes on the basketball court.

After President Mote quickly responded with his appropriately tart comment about "hooliganism," the university cobbled together measures designed to inhibit such schoolboyish (and, in this day and age, "schoolgirlish" as well, probably) boorishness. There will be a "buffer zone" of general seating between student sections and the bench of opposing teams; the pep band will no longer play "Rock and Roll Part II" whatever in the name of Perry Como that might be because the lyrics are said to be profane and to incite atavistic reaction. Terps fans will also be prohibited from what is referred to as a "tradition" of rattling newspapers to deride the visiting team as it is being introduced and then wadding up and tossing them at their adversaries. Unfortunately it seems that some of the fans at Cole have occasionally put chunks of ice and even batteries inside the wadded newsprint, thus vitiating the tension of their scholastic labors.

"There was a critical mass of people involved rather than a few groups of people," said Debbie Yow, the College Park athletic director, after the fracas at the Duke game. "You really have to see the film to see that something has to be done." So there is film of the nastiness. Splendid. That would mean that shortly any of the culprits who are Maryland students will be firmly dealt with at least until they retain attorneys.

Speaking of the latter, some College Park fans favor a T-shirt with the legend "Bleep Duke" or whichever team is visiting "Bleep" standing for an obscenity. The university tried to banish such obscene T-shirts, but "university attorneys advised [Athletic Director Dow] that it cannot be done legally because Cole is a public facility," as this paper reported, and therefore would restrict freedom of expression.

All of which gives quite a fresh definition to "home court advantage."

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