OPINION | Bulldog fans should use less bite, bark with team

The Butler University men’s basketball team currently holds a 12-11 record, but judging the behavior of some fans might lead you to think it was 0-23.

I would offer specific examples, but most of what I say inside Hinkle Fieldhouse is not fit for print.

I’m as guilty as any member of the Bulldog community.

A broad summary would be that the referees are obviously in collusion with the enemy, the Bulldogs themselves have failed to spot the gap in the opponent’s offense and the audience could shoot better.

By playing strong  throughout the past two seasons, the team has raised expectations.

The Butler fandom should realize that without the amazing talent, hard work and heartening team spirit of the Dawgs, we would not have nothing to be upset about.

So it is only right that we shift away from screaming like disappointed children to an attitude more similar to the Butler Way.

As bad as I may be, as a general rule, I cannot hold a candle to some of the even more “devoted” fans.

While sitting in the stands, someone once quipped between gulps of soda that it had been six minutes since the Bulldogs scored.

His friend immediately responded, “It’s a Butler game after all.”

The fact is fans are spoiled.

And it is sometimes almost offensive how blind we are to that.

The team came up with back-to-back tournament runs, with two finales that sound too cheesy to fit the next big sports movie.

And in both years, commentators, now ex-friends and competitors’ fans—both real and imaginary—all dismissed the Bulldogs as lucky, awkward Cinderellas.

So fans have more than a little righteous frustration.

No matter what the analysts say, the team has shown that it does not matter that Butler is relatively small  in size or that the team has an odd affinity for baby-faced boys who shoot like pros.

The Bulldogs have a lot to be proud of. Coach Brad Stevens led the team through two seasons that left brackets across the country shattered and left expectations spread across living rooms like popcorn on the seats of Hinkle.

And for the past five years, season ticket sales have increased.

On top of all of that, last year’s average attendance was 7,178, which was the highest in several decades, associate athletic director Michael Freeman said.

Fans may find it easy to forget past successes in the face of more recent “tragedies.”

So let the community try to remember that the Bulldogs changed the way people think about basketball.

Recall all those ridiculously sappy stories about how Butler won the heart of the nation. And even with my cynical heart, those awful cliché stories about brotherhood and team spirit made me believe in the team.

Butler put together—and continues to put together—fantastic programs with less money spent on the whole team than larger schools spend on every individual player.

And if the Butler Way means half as much as the university wants it to, that means fans—myself included—should remember how inspiring it was to watch the team handle its losses with far more grace and class than most players do when they win.

The Bulldogs can pull off miracles. The players took a nerdy kid—yours truly—who could not come up with one witty comparison between two sports things and made him into the envy of the most devout soccer hooligan.


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