As I settled into my seat, I could feel the excitement pulsing through my body. First game of the season, on a national televised station and raising the national championship banner, nothing could be better. People piled into the stands and friends reconnected as they passed each other in the crowded aisle ways. Behind me, a row of sorority girls were telling their stories of the wait in line. Many of them got up to use the restroom and get something to eat after the long wait, leaving 4-5 girls and one of their boyfriends to save their row. A few minutes later some members of the NDSU basketball team came walking up the aisle seeing the empty row. I had listened to one of the girls tell people the seats were taken for the last 5-10 minutes and although disappointed, everyone walked away with no issues. When the same girl told the basketball players no, that’s where the trouble began.
One of the players had asked “Who the hell are you saving them for?” to which she replied “My friends who are using the bathroom right now, go find some other seats.” There was animosity brewing and more hostile words were coming from the team, as 3-4 more players had come up the aisle to see what was going on. The player that initiated the conversation was becoming irritated that he wasn’t getting his way and said “You just some ugly ass bitch. Don’t think you’re anything special.” It was at this point that the boyfriend of the girl got involved. He said, “Leave us alone. Go get some other seats.” The basketball player laughed at him. The boyfriend was getting real frustrated and his fists began to close and tighten. The girl put her arm across him as if to hold him back, which created a roar of jokes and laughs from the players. “You ain’t nobody! Whatcha gonna do? You ain’t noboy!” The girl was eagerly trying to get her boyfriend to calm down and ignore him. “You wanna fight short guy? You ain’t nobody!” His teammates laughed and clapped and continued to encourage their friend to fight the guy. The boyfriend stayed seated though, never getting up to encourage the harassment. At this point the surrounding student body had listened to this for too long and was yelling at the team to leave. They laughed and waved them off, making sly remarks as they finally went down the aisle.
As a fan going into the game I was expecting drunk, crazy college students and a semi-hostile environment between fans about getting the best seat possible. This however, was something I was not expecting; yet something that doesn’t surprise me at all. Many NDSU athletes believe that what they ask for is what will be given to them because we’ve stopped treating student athletes like students and more like celebrities.
Now before everyone gets all upset, I’m a supporter of athletics. I've been to football, basketball, baseball and softball games. I have friends at other universities playing sports, I’ve played sports and grew up around them. I’m not trying to call out the university or say that the athletes don’t deserve their scholarships or anything like that, I’m just asking you to be humble and grateful for the things you are getting. When you act like this basketball player did, you are making people hate you, hate your sport and the school you’re representing. I can honestly say in that moment that I felt really ashamed to be a bison. I felt guilty that I had gone to his games and cheered on a team that turns around and treats the students like he had.
I’m also not saying that ALL athletes at NDSU or at any university are like this. I work grounds crew for the softball team and have been to many games and around the players. They’re always nice and willing to help when we need it. These girls are also three-time Summit League champions, yet they don’t expect special treatment from me because of this or someone to give up their entire row at a football game. Whether it’s the way they were raised, the coaches’ expectations or just how that athlete is as person, I have so much more respect for athletes like these.
To my athlete friends at other universities and my fellow bison, please remember the school and students you’re playing for. Stay humble and don’t believe for a second that you are better than any of your fellow students because you are a student first and fore most. Your athletic career is short, your education is forever, but that’s a rant for another time.