The “Ghetto” Comment

As many of you have heard by now, someone in the UNC crowd at the Maryland game on Saturday was caught verbally chastising the Maryland players to “Go back to the ghetto.”  Obviously this is a reprehensible remark, probably made in the heat of the moment and an unfortunate addendum to what was already a horrible day for UNC fans.  Initially most of the focus fell on “crying fans” aspect of the game but as of today The Sporting Blog picked up the story.

I’ll let you make your own judgments with regards to how offensive (and possibly racist) this slur is, although I’m fairly certain she meant it in the most hateful way possible.

And for the record, I in no way think all Tar Hell fans are horrible people. But this sort of behavior clearly reflects poorly upon their entire fan base. 

First let me say that, yes, it was terrible thing to say if for no other reason than the fact there has been many a Tar Heel player to step on that floor and win games representing UNC who come from less than desirable socioeconomic backgrounds.  It would behoove all of us to be very careful how we characterize other team’s players since most college basketball teams are demographically the same in many ways.

I do however disagree with the notion that the actions of one person reflects poorly on the whole fan base.  I am all about personal responsibility and I happen to think the uttered phrase reflects poorly on the person who said it.  I have also been pretty adamant about my position that we should do less in the way of generalizing our rivals and reasonably assume that there will always be a few among us who really ought to keep their mouths shut or as I stated this morning on the 850 the Buzz blog:

If you deployed mics all around the Dean Dome, RBC and Cameron you would find similar reprehensible comments equally among the three area fan bases. Thus the great hypocrisy that arises between rival fan bases and political parties when we rip someone else for being, well just like someone in your own group.

So over the next few hours(or days) if you read the work from our rivals you will find plenty of contempt and accusations of how classless UNC fans are because one person near an ABC microphone decided the best way to express their frustration with UNC losing was to deride the Maryland team that basically just handed the Heels their lunch.  I am sure she is not alone in her “opinion” just as Tar Heel fans as a group are not alone in that we have our own segment of fans who lack the class or intelligence to interact with the world in a civil manner.

So feel free to deride the comment for the disgusting shot that it was and even the person who said, but spare me the wider characterization of the whole fan base.  There is only so much hypocrisy I can handle.

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24 Responses to The “Ghetto” Comment

  1. Dan Schwind says:

    Clearly it’s not cool to say that, however, it should be noted that it could have been merely a poor choice of words. Having grown up 30 minutes from College Park and spent a lot of time on its campus as the son of a Maryland alum, I can safely tell you that both the campus and city are, to put it mildly, a dump.

    I think it should be noted that there is the possibility that the fan in question, if they knew anything about College Park, might have been referring to the campus as “ghetto” in the “dilapidated and ugly sense,” which does fit, not in the “separating a race from the rest of society” sense of ‘ghetto.’ Furthermore, she may have been referring to the campus as ghetto, rather than the players as “ghetto.”

    I’m not saying it’s okay to say, “Go back to the ghetto,” because regardless of which meaning was intended, it’s classless and unsportsmanlike. Just saying there could have been something else meant there. And, it should be remembered, that State and Dook fans have been notorious for their moments of classless chants and actions. e.g. The Cameron Crazies and Herman Veal (oddly enough, also from Maryland) and the state fans and their STD chant at Rashad in 2004.

  2. C. Michael says:

    Any State fan who wants to say something should just go back and look at the boards from after the ACCT Championship game… I believe there were several calls for a “lynching” of Ty Lawson…

    If it is one thing this world has no shortage of, it’s idiots!

  3. 52BigGameJames says:

    just one of the many reasons I don’t frequent competitor sites…trolling, I believe is the term.

  4. C. Justice says:

    Agreed, all teams have their rowdy fans. But to hear the ghetto comment amongst the visuals of crying coeds was truly a classic moment to really get inside the minds of most “privileged” Carolina students. No, you’re not better than us. In fact, you’re latent racists whose real opinions only come out when enraged… like losing to the Terps.

  5. Big Apple Heel says:

    THF, you’re dead on that one fan does not a fan base make. The ABCers will always be looking for some angle. Like you, he doesn’e speak for me and I don’t feel obligated to defend myself or Carolina because of one jerk. All in all, a tempest in a teapot.

    But I do want to offer that jerk a little advice. You should ask yourself why you are a Carolina fan. What does that mean to you? If its just about great basketball, that’s fine.

    But if you want to toss out a classless remark like this, I take it personally that you want to consider yourself a UNC fan like myself. It shows total ignorance of what UNC means to someone like me, to so many other North Carolinians and hopefully more than a few other folks.

    For a lot of Carolina fans, Dean Smith is part and parcel of the UNC basketball program. He sure is for me. And he’s never been afraid to stand up for his convictions on or off the court.

    Those convictions stand for the opposite of a comment like that. It besmirches Dean’s legacy, the program and the university. And no true Carolina fan would have the audacity to do that.

    The next time I’m at the Smith Center (geography has gotten in the way for a few years) I won’t hesitate to repeat the above rant directly to the face of anyone spewing crap like that. Maybe its hokey, but I think the legacy of the Carolina Way makes any other reaction pretty cowardly.

  6. CarolinaGirl says:

    I know Duke fans that are good people. I also know that some Duke fans called Scott Williams “orphan” when his father killed his mother and himself. I also know they chanted “JR Can’t Reid” at an African-American player, a statement tinged with racism. And that was the whole – or most – of the student body, not just one person. It is a completely ridiculous statement to say that one thing that came out of one person’s mouth represents the opinions of that entire fanbase. Does it represent all State fans that at least 20-30 were on a website calling Ty Lawson the “n” word and saying he deserved a “lynching” after the ACC Championship game? Of course not. So why should we have to take ownership and apologize for one idiot? I’m not going to apologize for her. That’s her job. If some idiot wants to think that it represents all Carolina fans, fine. But for the love of God, spare us all the sanctimony, please – especially for just ONE PERSON.

  7. Kyle says:

    As UNC fans don’t we have some responsiblity to call out fellow fans, however classless, when they embarrass themselves and the fan base as they have in this case?

    We are a collective fan base like it or not. We have a collective responsibility to monitor and intervene on fans behavior when it clearly crosses a line as in this case.

    To say it was likely said in the heat of the moment and then focus on whether or to what extent it reflects on the fan base seems to miss the point. Worse it becomes another version of taking an angle on the “story” to stir things up further.

    I am embarrassed as a fan by this comment. I hope it was not heard by the Maryland players though now of course it has. I personally would apologize to those players for this idiotic fellow fan of mine and reassure them we are doing what we can to keep our house in order.

    To echo Big Apple, doing anything else feels cowardly.

  8. Andy In Omaha says:

    I’m not defending the “ghetto” comment at all because it was a pretty dumb thing to say. I believe that it was used more in ignorance rather than racial spite.
    I went to some of the blog sites out there and I won’t even dignify these morons by responding. Yet again, they’re just looking for a reason to bash UNC because it makes them feel better. After all, the history of Maryland fans questioning JJ Redick’s sexuality is well-documented. Also, didn’t a bunch of their fans throw stuff at the Duke bench after a loss? I’ve also heard Duke and Kentucky fans throw racial slurs at Raymond Felton a couple of years ago in sports bars. Every college and pro team has their rowdy and idiotic fans. Anyone with half of an education knows this, and I live in a state with the most rabid and “way out there” college football fans ever!
    Once again, the fan that made the ghetto comment probably didn’t mean it in the racist context, but it’s completely stupid for any of these blowhards (don’t mean you, THF) with a blog site to classify all of us UNC fans as racist.

  9. Dan Schwind says:

    Hey, C. Justice,

    I’m sorry, but was your school at the front of the pack in terms of desegregating the ACC and, indeed, all of national basketball? Because I know the Heels sure were. Was your school home to massive pro-civil rights demonstrations in the 1960s? Because I know UNC was. Was your most famous basketball coach, and the face of the University an avid advocate for minority rights and a vocal opponent of racism? Because Dean Smith was and is.

    Seems to me that this university’s “privileged” students (by the way, UNC was the first school to guarantee any qualified student from an underprivileged background a free ride to college through the Carolina Covenant, so clearly we’re not all rich white kids from gated neighborhoods like Dook) and fans are anything but “latent” racists.

    In fact, as has been outlined already, Dook and State fans have clearly demonstrated racist tendencies and Maryland fans clearly aren’t leading the way in tolerance either. Just go back to the blog of whatever fan base you cheer for, or if you’re going to visit, leave your ignorant opinions at home.

  10. Wayne says:

    I don’t have anything to add, but want to mention the comments by CarolinaGirl & Dan Schwind were well thought out and made excellent points.

    As to “priviledged” students, I feel priviledged to have been accepted by UNC and priviledged to earn a degree from UND. But not “priviledged” in the way C. Justice apparently sees “priviledged” UNC students.

    I stayed out of school for a full year working a full time job and saving my money between high school and matriculating at Chapel Hill because that was about the only way I could afford to go to UNC or any other college as a full time student. So, I wasn’t financially and economically priviledged.

  11. Josh Bowling says:

    As someone that has come from humble beginnings, I have no problem with a fan saying that, or anything else for that matter.

  12. Josh Bowling says:

    Andy in Omaha, you can’t blame Maryland fans for questioning JJ Redicks sexuality.

  13. Josh Bowling says:

    Just playing devil’s advocate guys! CarolinaGirl, you are preaching to the choir here.

  14. Josh Bowling says:

    Actually, I would argue that the comment meant something good. I hear a lot of people, mainly in songs, take pride that they were from the ghetto and not from a priveledged upbringing. I gives you what they call “street cred”. I would sure love some of that! Our players need some of that, especially on the defensive end.

  15. CarolinaGirl says:

    Kyle, I see where you’re coming from. Believe me, I also value what Coach Smith taught very much and I wasn’t trying to gloss over the comment. I do think it was an ugly comment. Of course it’s embarrassing to our University and perhaps most importantly, to the individual herself.

    I guess that I just don’t see why I, as an individual Carolina fan, should have to defend the entire fanbase based on what one girl said. Why do I owe an apology to my friends or people that cheer for other schools? We don’t owe other fanbases any sort of apology or explanation, especially not the fanbases who are asking for it. The person who said it perhaps does, but that’s not for us to say. Even if we did have to apologize for her, the apology would go to the Maryland players and certainly not to any other fanbase. If Roy had said something about it (he may not even know about it), I would have no problem with it. Coach Smith himself would have been appalled by the comment. But myself, as an individual fan, can’t control what someone else says at a basketball game.

    My only point is that any other fanbase acting like the same kind of crap – and much worse – doesn’t happen with them is just being foolish. They don’t have any sort of right to get sanctimonious, especially when our fanbase is LEAST known in the league for that kind of crap.

    Yes, I hold Carolina to a higher standard but I’m also realistic. I know that there are at least some Carolina fans who are racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true. What are we going to do about it? There’s really not much we can do besides try to be good fans and represent the fanbase as well as we can ourselves.

    If there are apologies to be made here, it’s the girl to whomever she was directing her comment towards. Beyond that, it’s none of our concern. All we can do is roll our eyes, sigh and wish that some members of our fanbase didn’t represent themselves like idiots. But anyone from a rival fanbase who demands an apology or an explanation from you as a Carolina fan is representing themselves as an idiot as well.

  16. Tar Heel Fan says:

    CG,

    Excellent points. The owner of the comment does not represent us as a whole and any fan base stating otherwise should take the plank out of their eye before worrying about the speck of dust in ours.

  17. Josh Bowling says:

    Why be so sensitive period. I could care less what someone calls me or calls anyone else outside of my family. No one remark will change how my day is going or how I feel about myself. I am too busy trying to support a family and enjoying my own endeavors to allow any “verbal” remark or comment to bother me so. I just do not understand the sensitivity. And I really do not want to live in a society to where mere comments affect people so much. How will some of these folks respond when they are hit with a real tragedy if they can act like that over one person’s comments?

  18. C. Michael says:

    Has the actual person who said it been identified? Are we 100% sure that it was actually a UNC fan who said it? The odds are that it was, but there were definitely UM fans there, and “go back to the ghetto” actually seems like something a winning fan would say.

  19. Big Apple Heel says:

    CG, we’re on the same page as far as taking crap from other fan bases. Like I said, I don’t feel compelled to defend UNC to anyone based on one fan. All teams have their share of stupid fans, so I’m not worried the least little bit about the ABCers.

    And I think we are on the same page in general. Like you, I hold Carolian to a high standard. I’d like to think that if I was a fan of any other school or team, I’d feel the same way about who I was rooting for. That’s at the core of it to me – the responsibility we have for calling each other out within the family.

    As far as what can we do about it, you’re right that there’s a limit to that. But if I’m at a game or a bar and someone is cheering UNC and getting really out of line in their taunts, I wouldn’t hesitate to call them on it. You don’t need to be a jerk about it yourself. Maybe they flip you the bird for your trouble. But maybe they’ll take it to heart and realize that they are being a jerk.

    We’ve all ignored little things like this in our lives, I know I have. We naturally want to avoid conflict, figure it won’t make a difference and its just plain easier not to get involved. But as I get older, I realize that it really can make a difference, however small.

  20. Black Mountain Sophomore says:

    No excuse for that comment. And of course it isn’t fair to attribute that senseless statement to ALL Carolina fans, anymore than it’s fair to say all Dook fans are unoriginal, classless jerks just because of Dook Vitale and the other Cameron Crazies.

    When I was walking away from the Bobcats Arena after the Davidson game, there was a clearly intoxicated man wearing a Carolina swetshirt and baseball cap who was berating a couple of Davidson fans. He went on and on, cursing loudly, embarassing everyone around us. I said, to no one in particular but loud enough that my kids could hear, “He probably never got within 15 miles of Chapel Hill. I guess that’s a good argument against selling beer at these games.” A woman walking nearby said “No, that’s a good argument for not selling Carolina gear at Wal-Mart.”

    Apologies to all you Wal-Mart shoppers for the apparent endorsement of such an elitist remark by another “privileged” Carolina fan.

  21. william says:

    I think Maryland was at the forefront of teams in the ACC leading integration. Carolina was probably second.

    I do not think describing the University of Maryland campus as a “dump” does much to tone matters down either. For a semi-urban campus, I find it to be fairly attractive and I am sure that there are many unbiased minds who would find both Wake and Duke’s campuses to be “nicer” than Carolina’s.

    Aside from all that, who even says “ghetto” or for that matter, “inner city” anymore? If you are from inner city Charlotte, you are definitely not poor. I think what the remark might actually be aimed at was the notion that somehow Carolina’s athletes are more “refined” than Maryland’s based upon our lack of long hair styles or afros. Go see some Spike Lee movies if you want to understand the issue more, but honestly, this is one of those areas where whites should just tread lightly.

  22. Josh Bowling says:

    Right William, especially given the new-found sensitivity to the matter. Do not say things that may be self-incriminating. I try not to myself.

  23. Wayne says:

    I don’t know what Dana Jacobson said about Notre Dame to get suspended by ESPN. I do know what Kelly Tilghman said about Tiger Woods to get suspended by the Golf Channel.
    I guess at least the young woman who is at fault for uttering the ghetto remark is in “good” company . . .

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