Do College Basketball Fans Take Losing Too Seriously?

By John Hayden
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Do college basketball fans really take losing too seriously? This is a great question to ask after the recent incident in the Kansas Jayhawks and Iowa State Cyclones game in which the Jayhawks ended up winning in overtime. Right after the game a Cyclone fan approached Kansas coach Bill Self, not to get his autograph, but to tell him a thing or two.

The man was very animated and upset about his beloved Cyclones losing and the no-call at the end of the game. Self did say, “It was not a serious deal at all like people made it out to be. Maybe his body language made it look differently. I didn’t feel in the least bit like anything would come of that. It was a fan voicing himself in a way he was a little animated. The words weren’t bad.”

That wasn’t as serious than a few other things that happened after the game. While the Kansas players were leaving the court and heading to their locker room, Cyclones fans pelted them with debris. Self did say it was a bit alarming fans were so close to the players after a hotly contested game.

Fans can get wild, but how wild can they get? Can they take losing too seriously and take revenge out on the one person or team that beat their team? Self pointed out that, “They could probably make some corrections to make sure they (fans) don’t have access to players after a game like that.” The Kansas coach continued, “I know when we’ve been at Missouri in heated times, there’s security escorting the players out. After the handshake line it probably could be tightened up a bit.”

There still was an even more serious problem that happened, and one that is being investigated right now by Iowa State officials. There were  two Twitter death threats to Elijah Johnson, who dunked at the end of the game rather than running out the clock. One person tweeted suggested attacking the Jayhawk bus with “30 bullets” and another making racist comments directed at Johnson. Both Twitter accounts had been deactivated by Tuesday evening.

There have been so many episodes of fans sending hate mail to the opposing team – but death threats? Come on, wake up. I believe that too many fans take losing too seriously. I know in the past I’ve been upset when the Jayhawks would lose, especially against teams they shouldn’t have like VCU. We see fans in just about every game heckling the other players, getting in their faces while they are shooting from the charity line, and at times throwing debris at them.

Fans tend to take losing like it is the end of the world, but they don’t have a right to yell or threaten the other team that beat their team– especially tweeting a death threat just because you felt like your team should have won because the refs blew a call. Fans are not playing, going through the practices day in and out, traveling, missing classes, conditioning, dealing with the hostile crowd around them or wearing a jersey. They are spectators who need to understand that losing is part of the game. Your team will win games and lose games. There was no death threats to TCU when they beat the Jayhawks or when Markel Brown shot lights out for Oklahoma State in Lawrence to upset the Jayhawks at home.

Fans do take losing too seriously and something needs to be done about it now before someone gets seriously hurt. Okay, Johnson did dunk the ball with only a few seconds left in overtime which made everyone mad (even Cyclones head coach Fred Hoiberg), but Johnson did apologize to everybody after the game. I can understand why you would get upset about it but come on basketball is just a game, it’s not a lifestyle. These young players go out there day in and day out to win for the fans and each other. They fight, battle and  drive towards that goal.

The best part of the story was that Jared Knight, the president of Iowa State University’s government of the student body, has sent a letter of apology to Kansas University’s chancellor and athletic department in response to two Cyclone students’ racist tweets and ones threatening physical harm to Jayhawks players and coaches.

This type of example from Knight should teach fans from all around that they need to chill out and not take losing so seriously.

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