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Wright Words: Stay classy, San Diego State

Published: Tuesday, March 1 2011 2:34 p.m. MST

In this photo taken Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011, San Diego State students get riled up before the start of an NCAA college basketball game against TCU in San Diego.

Associated Press

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Has there ever been a better time to be a Brigham Young University basketball fan? Currently BYU stands at No. 3 in the polls and looks poised for a rare run into the NCAA Tournament’s second week.

You can’t turn on ESPN these days without seeing a clip of BYU All-American Jimmer Fredette launching a 30-foot 3-pointer, or a live interview with “The Jimmer” or a hoops guru breaking down game film. Even more likely, you’ve seen all of the above. If Jimmer were a stock, he’d be Google at $610 a share with room to grow.

Indeed, it’s been quite a season. I only wish I’d seen more of it. Living in the East has not afforded as many opportunities to watch games as my friends in the West. Just imagine how thrilled I was that BYU’s game with then-No. 6 ranked San Diego State University last Saturday would be televised coast-to-coast on CBS. It was only the second game all year I watched from tip-off to final buzzer.

Thankfully, the game was nearly everything we’d been promised. It featured physical play from both teams, timely offense and good coaching from two of the best. It was entertaining and competitive until roughly the 10-minute mark of the second half. For the rest of the matchup, BYU answered every SDSU mini-run with huge shots from plenty of players not named Jimmer.

As the clock ticked down, the only real suspense was whether or not SDSU fans, desperate for a win over their much-hated league rival, would stay classy or repeat their embarrassing behavior from previous meetings.

SDSU coach Steve Fisher sent an e-mail earlier in the week asking all fans, especially those in SDSU’s famed student section dubbed “The Show,” to behave appropriately.

Among other things, Fisher wrote, “We cannot cross the line into topics that are out of bounds and distasteful, particularly making fun of one's religion."

Maybe some SDSU fans have junk filters blocking Coach Fisher’s e-mails.

It’s obvious that if you’re watching premium cable and your children walk in the room, you better be prepared to explain the profanity, innuendo, etc. To a slightly lesser degree, the same is true if your little ones wander in while watching any number of primetime sitcoms on NBC, CBS, ABC or FOX. But should that be the case if you’re watching a college basketball game on national television?

During the final minutes of the SDSU-BYU game, my daughter popped in to check on the score and enjoy a quick one-on-one chat with Dad. I was explaining a foul against SDSU when the crowd, obviously disagreeing with the call, began to chant a popular two-word phrase connoting disbelief. “Dad, are they chanting what I think they’re chanting?”

“Yes, dear, they are.”

“Can’t they get in trouble for that?” she asked.

“Apparently not.”

Basketball is a sport that encourages fan involvement. We sit close to the court and have easy access to players. We’re often referred to as the “sixth-man” and, perhaps more than in any sport, we can feed a team’s momentum.

Everyone wants to win the big game, right? That’s why we buy tickets and that’s why we scramble around on a busy Saturday morning to be in a position to devote two hours to a basketball game. It’s not a crime to want your team to perform well and to beat your rival. But when is too much too much?

Perhaps it was poor taste that hundreds of SDSU students dressed as missionaries in white shirts, ties and fake nametags, but most would argue it was harmless. I thought the efforts to distract BYU players at the free-throw line with giant heads of pop culture figures was quite clever. I saw Woody from Toy Story, Marilyn Monroe and Donald Trump. Nothing offensive there.

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