Friday night’s Nevada vs. Louisiana Tech football game and last Saturday’s game against UNLV were night and day. Friday night was enjoyable. I wasn’t afraid I would be dragged into a fistfight, be called the worst of the four-letter words or be rudely reminded that as of noon on Oct. 3, Nevada was 0-3.
Upping the team’s record to 2-3 against Louisiana Tech, in a much more respectable win, it seemed that Nevada was still enjoying the previous weekend’s win. But it was a win they shouldn’t be proud of because they played poorly. UNLV shouldn’t be concerned about the loss because they played on par.
Football aside (I am not a sports reporter or an organized sports fan in general), I have a secret to tell in the form of a riddle:
I’m a UNR alum. My best friend is a UNLV alum. What’s a girl to do?
Here’s the answer: Sit in the sea of red while wearing white and blue and a t-shirt with the above phrase printed on it. My best friend, Andrea, wore the same shirt with the schools switched.
After years of poking fun at each other over trivial sports accomplishments, we’re still friends because we have managed to remember the most important sports rule of all: It’s only a game.
I wish both Pack and Rebel fans were so smart. Unfortunately, neither side is absolved from guilt in what became a game of who could launch the best insult, use the f-word the most and embarrass their parents in the best way.
The last title goes to the UNLV student who stood in front of me and said: “I was born and raised in Reno. But I’m for UNLV now … I’m going to get arrested by the end of this game.”
True to his word, I saw him being dragged away in handcuffs with only six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Although I don’t know what he was arrested for, the upside must have been that his parents are at least close enough to pick him up from jail.
I’m sure some are still confused why I opted to sit in the red section. After all, how can I defend such a blasphemous decision? Easily, because I was invited to and attended the game with parents of a UNLV football player.
In Andrea’s time in the most sinful of cities she acquired a second family, one that includes her “Las Vegas best friend” Danielle and her brother Michael, who plays for UNLV. Their parents, Joe and Cathy, are some of the kindest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. They let Andrea into their family and by proxy and when we visited in January I weaseled my way in as Andrea’s conjoined-at-the-hip “Reno best friend.”
Joe and Cathy attend Michael’s games as devoted parents and fans. “Devoted” is not a word the UNLV fans have learned because once they believed UNLV would not rebound with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter — meaning there were no more insults or f-words to be hurled — they cleared the stands.
In the nearly four hours that Joe, Cathy, Andrea and I watched the ball being launched from end to end of Mackay Stadium, we witnessed behaviors that if my own mother caught me doing she would use the “d” word — disappointed.
I know some of you read that and ran in terror of so angry a mother, but it is true. The lack of discretion and decorum students showed each other and their elders was appalling. Poor Joe in more than one instance was forced to confront drunken students who only seemed interested in seeing how far they could push him, or the people around them, before a fight would ensue.
As for the UNR students, they should be equally ashamed. They have learned to abuse the system by walking in front of the UNLV section and antagonizing fights then walking away knowing the worst that can happen is some offended Rebel fan might actually come down from the stands, try to end the fight they started and be arrested before the first punch is even landed.
Shame on you both. Now go sit with your nose in the corner.
While I’m not sure I have a one-size-fits-all answer for this problem, UNR has tried to curtail violence at its football games — especially the state rivalry game — by imposing rules on alcohol, such as you can only buy one beer at a time and each patron much pay for their own.
That rule didn’t seem to compensate for the incompetent security people who check bags and jackets at the gate for alcohol and weapons. On numerous occasions I saw students both red and blue drinking from open bottles of liquor and passing it around to friends.
That’s a pass and a fumble for the UNR administration.
Aside from the alcohol-fueled rage, a hundred times Andrea and I tried to conjure up ways to solve the tension that festers between the fans at this game. With the Millennium Scholarship, too many students find themselves transplants to the rival school and come game time they’re forced to choose allegiances.
Do you pick the school you return to on Monday or the friends you’ve had since you were 5 years old?
Oddly enough, it is both of these relationships that create the animosity that makes the game a horrific experience. In this tension, there is no clear decision and no clear reminder about what sportsmanship is and what it means to be a humble winner and a gracious loser.
I thank both the Pack and the Rebel players for walking off the field at Mackay Stadium with their heads high and in a respectable manner. I wish the same could be said for the fans.
Sorry to say, I doubt I will attend another Nevada vs. UNLV game. This is Michael’s last season with UNLV and since I have graduated from UNR, I cannot come up with one good reason to put myself through another four hours of verbal abuse.
Go ahead Nevada and shoot the Freemont Cannon with glee, but I for one don’t enjoy the circumstances under which you won it.
Cortney Maddock is a writer for the Sparks Tribune. She can be reached at email@example.com.