March Madness: When Fans Go Too Far

John LewisSenior Writer IMarch 19, 2008

As the NCAA tournament is set to begin Thursday, college basketball is sinking to an all-time low—not in enthusiasm, but in the attitude of its fans.

Sports Illustrated chronicled the story of Kevin Love and his family, and how they were greeted by Oregon Ducks fans in Eugene.  The death threats left on his cell phone got so bad that the freshman phenom had to call and cancel his phone plan.

His father, Stan Love, is the sixth leading scorer in Oregon basketball history, and he was at the game to watch his son.  The home crowd threw popcorn cartons and empty cups and even shouted vulgar words at the family.

The younger Love responded with a 26-point, 18-rebound performance, as UCLA won 80-75.  But the fans' behavior was certainly the hot topic in Eugene. 

Indiana Hoosier freshman Eric Gordon received similar treatment when he visited the Illinois Fighting Illini.  Gordon verbally committed to Illinois before he changed his decision and went to Indiana.

The Illinois crowd chanted "F--- you," and someone threw a drink at his mother.  They cheered when Illini guard Chester Frazier knocked Gordon back five feet with a chest bump during player introductions.

So how much is too much?  We all know that Duke is one of the most hated schools in college basketball, but fans throughout college basketball could learn a lot from their creative cheers. I've been to many games in Cameron Indoor Stadium, and the atmosphere is one of the best in the country. 

During a February matchup against rival Maryland, the Duke student section held up signs that read, "Fear The Classroom," which was aimed at Maryland's school chant, "Fear The Turtle," and played on the fact Maryland has the lowest graduation rate in the conference.

Last month at Pitt, meanwhile, a fan held up a "Brokeback Mountaineers" sign when the Panters hosted West Virginia.  Each year seems to get worse for players and family members.

Should something be done—you tell me what it is.