When Nick Linder ’05, president of the SA, was kicked out of the hockey game two Saturdays ago for what he says he felt was a traditional cheer, he was upset.
“I was mad, I was pissed off, because I’m a fan, I’m trying to be a good fan, and they’re inhibiting my ability to have pride in Cornell and pride in my team,” Linder said. “What is this about? I’ve been to hockey games before and I’ve never heard anyone getting kicked out for saying that.”
According to Linder, he and two of his fellow fraternity members were watching the game together. “A member of the other team fouled our player, and so the chant when somebody goes into the penalty box is you kinda wave at them and say ‘See ya’ asshole, you lose!’,” Linder said.
Immediately after the cheer, an usher yelled, “You three, you’re out of here!,” Linder said. Eventually, Linder and his friends were escorted out by police and had their CUID numbers taken.
Linder found himself caught in the University’s attempts to both make the games a more family-friendly venue and fall within NCAA regulations.
According to the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey Rules and Interpretations, “A coach or other non-playing person connected with a team shall not use foul or abusive language; obscene gestures; threatening language or gestures to an official or opposing players either before or during a game.”
Consequences to violating the rule, the guide continues, range from a two to ten minute penalty against the fan’s team.
“It’s an NCAA rule, and we are an NCAA institution,” explained Gene Nighman ’81, director of Athletic Tickets and Events, who is in charge of enforcing the rule.
But for Nighman and others, the profanity issues run deeper. “It shows a total lack of class, swearing at the visiting team,” Nighman said.
After meeting with Frank Araneo, Associate Athletic Director for Business and Finance, the Monday after his ejection, Linder grew sympathetic to the administration’s plight.
“We spoke with him for about 45 minutes,” Linder said. “We asked him what was this about?”
Araneo, according to Linder, explained that the games were very much part of the public face of the University.
“Basically, we have dignitaries coming to these games, Janet Reno [’60] comes to these games, congressmen coming to these games, that sort of thing. And, the games are live webcast now,” Linder said.
Linder’s main complaint was the lack of publicity about the rules. “You got to respect the Lynah Faithful,” he said. “Basically, nobody knows the policy… and nobody knows you can lose your season’s tickets.”
“Not only did people pay money [for the tickets],” Linder continued, “but you can’t refund the 40 hours someone slept in their jacket on the floor of the Ramin room on top of that turf. You can’t refund that.”
Especially irksome for Linder was the one-warning policy, where a second violation forfeits season tickets. “This is not right. You can’t take someone’s season tickets just because of some arbitrary policy you have written down in a book, some fine print somewhere,” Linder said. “I heard a lot of people thinking it was three strikes you’re out. But that’s not it. It’s two strikes, I guess.”
Nighman, however, felt the rules were not hidden or even new. “Maybe it’s just the individuals that got nabbed this year just feel like, ‘Oh, that’s unfair.’ But the bottom line is that we’ve been doing the same thing [in regards to profanity rule enforcement] for many years,” he said. “The policy has always been the use of profanity is not allowed, and if you’re caught swearing, you’ll be expelled from the rink.”
Nighman also pointed to the fact that signs at each entrance clearly state any person using profanity, racial, or sexist comments risks expulsion from the rink. “It’s on the back of every ticket, too,” Nighman added.
Asked about continuing efforts to publicize the profanity rule, Nighman said efforts were being made. “We’re going to e-mail all the kids that are on the database that we collected from the line-number forms, and I think something that we’ll probably also do is put them up on the website.”
“Obviously, it is on the signs outside of the rink and it is on the back of the ticket, but, obviously, who pays attention to the fine print?” Nighman said. “I know for sure that my head usher told [the rules] personally to all the kids with line numbers when they bought their tickets.”
For many die-hard Lynah Faithful, however, the profanity is a problem not because of its offensive nature but because it takes away from the tradition of creative excellence in Cornell cheering.
“I’m a little surprised, actually, when profanity is used instead of creativity that the Lynah Faithful are known for. I think it’s a real shame,” said John Hayes ’98, who maintains the comprehensive, unofficial cheer guide at eLynah.com.
The two “traditional” cheers involving profanity actually started out more innocuous. “‘See you, asshole’ always used to be ‘See you . . . you goon!’ with a pause,” Hayes said. He added that the expletive was originally reserved for especially nefarious opponents.
Hayes also bemoaned the lack of hockey knowledge amongst many of the “Faithful”: “You always hear people yelling, ‘See you . . . you lose’, which is clearly wrong if you know anything about hockey.”
Nighman also pointed out that “the song, which is a song that is played at basically every other university in the country, is supposed to be ‘Rough ’em up, rough ’em up,’ but we’ve manipulated that into something more vulgar.”
Archived article by Michael Morisy