Extreme sports fandom has always given me the creeps, especially when I was sitting in the student section at Hawkeye football games. There’s something instinctual about being wary of a group of people who are all dressed alike, shouting in tandem at the “other.” I think there’s also something instinctual happening in the brains of the shouters — like they’re taking their darkest urges out for a walk, just to see how it feels. Most fans take their urges for casual strolls without causing harm, like by gently teasing friends on the opposing side. Other fans — the ones who throw bottles, harass band members and come pouring out of bars dangerously angry when their team loses, actually forget they aren’t in the middle of battle.
It’s entirely predictable that the harassment of band members is currently in the news. It’s also embarrassing, not just for one school, but for anyone who participates in the rivalry, and maybe for Iowans in general. When my sister traveled to Iowa City as a member of the Iowa State color guard, she dodged objects being thrown at her face and tried to avoid getting grabbed.
On more than one occasion, I’ve caught myself saying, “I went to Iowa, but I’m not into football.” This caveat falls out of my mouth before I realize it because I don’t want to be associated with the fandom when “hate” for the other team seems a little too much like the real thing.