Sunday, January 9, 2011


One day I'm going to find some. When that day comes, I'm going to turn to the man that sits behind us and ask him a question. He and his son are season ticket holders like we are. Generally well behaved, so that's not my issue. If you're familiar with hockey, when a goal is scored, traditionally the crowd chants, "Sieve, Sieve, Sieve!" Our school has added a lovely follow up, which this man and his young son gleefully participates in. The chant at our local college goes, "Sieve, You Suck; Sieve, You Suck" Now I'm not upset with the Sieve, this is a long standing tradition in hockey, but You Suck? When did this become acceptable? So I want to ask the man behind me, "do you also teach him to chant You Suck when Mom drops a plate? or when his friend gets an answer wrong in class?"To be fair, he's far from the only father/mother cheering this way. The family that sits in front of us is an anomaly though, in that they don't participate.

Whenever I discuss this with the Debate Team (Babycenter), the common thread is that I'm alone in wondering why this behavior is acceptable, after all, it's a sporting event, and that's normal behavior. Normal? well in that it seems to be happening quite often, and in many places sure it's normal. But acceptable? why? when did we forget that those players are people? When did we forget that spectators are subject to the same rules of sportsmanship as the players. To the point where the team can be penalized for the crowd's behavior.

Merriam-Webster defines sportsmanship as follows: conduct (as fairness, respect for one's opponent, and graciousness in winning or losing) becoming to one participating in a sport

Can anyone tell me at what point "You Suck" became a sign of respect for one's opponent? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?

To be fair, it's not the worst thing I've heard at a hockey game, it's quite a ways from the worst. But it's organized, it's participated in mindlessly by many that I think aren't even paying attention to what they are saying. Children are encouraged to participate and I wonder. I wonder how many of these parents that point their arms and cheerfully yell "Sieve, You Suck" would be shocked if at the local spelling bee a child misspelled a word and their child stood up and yelled, "You Suck!" After all, they've been taught that it's fair game if someone makes a mistake in public to deride them.

What about the first part of the chant? Isn't that derogatory? I don't think so. It's a generic term, anyone can be a sieve, it's simply the process of letting something through a small hole. "You Suck" is a statement of opinion about a specific person. That's what the You does, it points out that one person, the goalie in this case. It singles them out for ridicule.  That's what I just can't wrap my head around. Why we accept this. Why do I sit there game after game, thankful that my son is too young to be in the arena and absorbing this, thinking that it's acceptable behavior. Mom and Dad are the odd ones, because everyone else is saying it, it can't be that bad. Why do we, as a society, seem to feel that anti-social behavior should be accepted because it's a hockey game (or a football game, or a baseball game, or a whatever?)

Or am I wrong? Do we need this time to be rude to someone, a faceless enemy, dressed in the oppositions colors, known mainly by the number on the jersey or the position he plays? We can yell "You Suck" at him with impunity, so that on Monday when our co-workers gets up in front of the Board of Directors and completely blows the presentation of the project you've been working on for two months, you don't stand up and yell "You Suck!" Which we can't do because it's rude, boorish, and well unsportsmanlike for a start.

This won't be my last post on this subject. The power of the words we use every day, and our own behavior.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, this subject - the power of words - comes at a very interesting time. The internets are a buzz with this very topic. Interesting that nasty (or violent) language can be acceptable in a hockey area or a political event but not at all acceptable on a playground, a restaurant, or a piano recital.