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University of N.H. tries to tame hockey fans’ tongues

By The Associated Press
11.13.06

DURHAM, N.H. — The University of New Hampshire is trying to tame hockey fans who are fond of chanting profanities at opposing teams.

Before the Oct. 7 hockey game, Athletic Director Marty Scarano and men's hockey coach Dick Umile created printed fliers urging fans to "eliminate inappropriate behavior and language" and had them placed on each of the Whittemore Center's 6,501 seats. But during the Nov. 3 game against Northeastern, the chanting continued.

Each time a Northeastern skater was sent to the penalty box, hundreds of fans shouted, "Skate, skate, skate, sit down b-----!"

Campus police reacted by removing some fans from their seats and warning them. Meanwhile, the UNH band director cued players to drown out the chants with their instruments.

"It just started this season," said snare drum player Lori Castintino of the band's chant-drowning efforts. "Some people think it's stupid, but more people like it."

Not UNH senior and hockey fan Josh Varieur.

"I think it's really dumb," said Varieur, who regularly positions himself in the stands behind the opposing team's goalie for the sole purpose of taunting him.

"It's mostly to get the crowd riled up," he said. "We pay to go to this school, so we should be allowed to have our own traditions, whether it's family oriented or not. At some point, you gotta be able to say what you want to say."

College spokesman Kim Billings said banning the offensive chants in no way infringes on the fans' right to free speech.

"Free speech is a core value of any university, including of course, UNH. This extends not only to faculty members' academic freedom, but to students' many and varied artistic, political and social expressions," Billings said. "That said, civility is a core value of any university, including UNH. A reminder to students before the hockey games that families are in the audience is consistent with both free speech and civility."

Dave Micucci, a 1975 UNH graduate who brought his young son to the game, said officials are being too picky.

"You'd hear worse at an NFL game," he said.

"I never saw it as a big deal," he said. "They're just taunting the players."


Related

Maryland coach cautions fans to keep it clean

Gary Williams tells students that obscene behavior at home basketball games has 'got to stop'; university, meanwhile, has asked attorney general for advice on how to handle incidents. 02.03.04

Mich. bill aims to give sports fans more rights to cheer, jeer
Taxpayer-supported stadiums couldn't confiscate signs unless they block other fans' view, contain profanity or pose safety hazard. 09.13.06

6th Circuit allows Indians fan to pursue free-speech claim
'It reaffirms the right of fans in baseball and football to heckle players, which we believe is protected by the First Amendment,' says attorney for fan arrested at game in 2001. 09.18.06

Fan profanity

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