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Courtside Conversations with Paul Johnson
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 06/22/2004
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Feb. 5, 2004

On my "I Thought I Would Never See This in My Lifetime" list are items such as finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, expecting MTV to produce a family-oriented Super Bowl half-time show, uttering the words "President Dean", and Arizona State basketball fans stooping to an even lower level. Well, one out of four ain't bad! Indeed, ASU fans have done it again. They have not only embarrassed the state of Arizona, they have embarrassed themselves.

On Saturday, Jan. 31, the Arizona women's basketball team faced the Sun Devils at Wells Fargo Arena. The evening started out in promising fashion, as the teams took the floor amongst a raucous crowd that you only see at one of these in-state rival games. However, things quickly deteriorated because of the sewage that began to spew from the ASU student section.

Before I arrived in Tempe that night, I was hopeful that America had put much of its race-related problems behind it. Apparently, Arizona State fans haven't gotten that message. Without going into detail, there were racial taunts directed at Arizona's African-American players that reached the absolute bottom of the barrel when one fan produced a banana, and you don't have to have an IQ high enough to enroll at ASU to figure out what that was for.

Why should I have expected more? We have seen this type of garbage in Tempe all too many times. From Steve Kerr to Jerry Kindall, ASU fans have shown absolutely no respect for the person inside the uniform, and in this case, the decency that one human being should strive to show another.

Earlier this season, there was an altercation involving the University of Washington following its game in Tempe. Somehow, coach June Daugherty and several players ended up in the student section after a questionable scoring decision had cost the Huskies the services of star forward Giuliana Mendiola. The Huskies reputation as "thugs" led me to assume that they were at fault in this matter, but now I wonder. What was said? Was it as crass and vile as what Arizona's athletes were exposed to on Saturday?

Let me sound this warning to Arizona fans, especially with a Sun Devil visit on the schedule for later this month featuring the Lute-ripping Rob Evans and his men's basketball outfit. Please, please, please, do not shrink to the level of ASU fans!!! Keep your dignity and represent Arizona with the class that ASU seems to have a hard time gathering. To go to the level of what we saw in Tempe on Saturday would be wrong, so let's not do it.

Someday, they may find those inexplicable weapons in Iraq, Howard Dean might be president, and MTV might find some morals, but none of these things are likely. Just as unlikely is to think that Arizona State fans would become decent and self-respecting. I'm afraid my life won't last long enough to see any of these things happen!

See you on the radio!
Paul Johnson

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