Duke hosted Michigan State on Tuesday night as part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. The game featured two Hall of Fame coaches and some of the best young talent in the country. The Blue Devils throttled the Spartans with a second-half surge and coasted to a convincing victory.
And this yahoo with a sign making sport of the Flint water crisis was there to see it. Guess that terrific Duke education isn’t yet paying off.
While it’s good to know someone with enough common sense to recognize this poorly-spaced message as heinous made an executive decision to remove it, making light of Flint’s situation has been a disturbing trend in recent days.
Ohio State fans joked that Michigan girls are more diseased than the city’s water before The Game on Saturday.
Common internet practice is to pillory these students for their behavior and it would be easy to do, as they are standing on some unstable moral ground. But when I saw this sign a different emotion came to the surface.
Regret. Regret for the stupid things I said and did as a sports fan supporting my team in college. Regret for trivializing things in the quest for humor without regard for the humanity affected.
There are chants I participated it and things yelled in the heat of the moment that far exceeded the line of what’s acceptable. Youthful exuberance often hampers good decision-making. The passing of time and some personal growth yields more perspective.
This is not to excuse the behavior, but rather to contextualize it and try to come up with a mature response that offers a countermeasure to the insensitivity.
That’s why it’s uplifting to see that North Carolina fans banded together to support Flint by making donations for every point Spartan freshman Miles Bridges, who hails from the troubled town, scored against Duke. It’s a reminder that there’s always a step past outrage in situations like this, should one want to take it.
It’s naive to believe signs of this ilk will suddenly disappear. And perhaps it’s naive to think that the cycle of righteous indignation and pushback against PC culture will ever stop spinning. The best we can hope for is to realize that there are stops along the way, actual productive avenues like self-reflection and compassion to explore if compelled.