Nothing wrong with Purdue students yelling “IU sucks!” Who does it bother?

Trying to end the “IU sucks!” chants at IU is silly.

Disliking a rival is every bit as important to sports fans as their love for favorite teams, and putting collective voice to it is righteous and decent.

Purdue basketball coach Matt Painter explained his feeling about ending the chant after yesterday’s win against Ohio State, “What happened to Matt Haarms in Bloomington wasn’t right, but we’ve got to clean up our own backyard and give up the ‘IU sucks’ chant. Because today, IU didn’t suck and they beat Michigan State.”

Best interests of the Boilermakers and Hoosiers aligned yesterday as Indiana knocked off Michigan State to clear a path for Purdue to take the outright lead in the Big 10, but on February 19th, as Purdue beat their in-state rivals at Assembly Hall, the relationship was anything but supportive.

Indiana fans serenaded Haarms relentlessly with chants of “F*** you, Haarms!”  Hoosiers were embarrassed, and the Boilers boiled.

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“IU sucks!” is not similar in form or severity to what Indiana fans yelled at Haarms.  There are three specific differences that render any comparison absurd:

  1. “IU sucks!” is not yelled at a person, but toward a university.  Haarms is a 21-year-old young man from Amsterdam.  Indiana University is a public university nearing its 200th birthday.
  2. “Sucks” and “F*** you” are different in every way, but let’s look at it through the prism of what is legally defined as obscenity by the Federal Communications Commission.  It’s very hard to find a radio talk show where the works “sucks” is not uttered a dozen times each day.  But if a host drops an f-bomb, the fine can run $47,340.
  3. Yelling “IU sucks” every game, whether it’s against IU, Rutgers, or Minnesota, is a compliment toward Indiana, and IU fans and athletes have always taken it that way.  To know that your university is so deeply entrenched in the minds of a rival is the highest form of flattery.

We need to stop seeing all acrimony as somehow cruel and insensitive.  “IU sucks!” is part of what makes the rivalry between Indiana and Purdue so much fun.  Dropping f-bombs on an opposing player?  Not so much.

I’m proud to be an IU alum, and that pride is undinged by Purdue students voicing their hatred for IU.  Conversely, I was ashamed of IU as the f-bombs were allowed to continue to be hurled at Haarms.

It should have been stopped in the moment.

The “IU sucks!” chants should continue.  After the behavior of the IU students and the apparent indifference from IU officials at the time, I began to doubt my longstanding confidence that Purdue students are wrong.

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