I wrote about boorish crowd behavior for the Wednesday Oklahoman. You can read that column here. But I didn’t reference a memorable game from 17 years ago when then-OU basketball coach Kelvin Sampson tried to change the culture a little at Lloyd Noble Center.
On Feb. 1, 1997, with the Sooners hosting Texas, the OU crowd repeatedly chanted “Texas sucks.” And the crowd in unison laughed when referee Larry Ware tripped over an OU player and into a press table.
Sampson took the public-address microphone and said, “We’re not going to stoop down and laugh at people. . . . Let’s not say ‘Texas sucks’ anymore, either.”
Sampson drew some criticism from OU fans. OU fans, like most fans, don’t like being told what to do. To this day, some Sooner fans boo the pre-game football announcement from president David Boren, asking fans to treat the visitors and opponents with respect.
But it was a quality gesture by Sampson then and in short supply now. The lack of civility in sporting venues is a major problem. I would not take my granddaughters to a men’s college basketball game. No way.
Seventeen years ago, after his request to the Lloyd Noble crowd, Sampson told the media, “Let’s spend our energy making our team better … You can have a great program, an intense, hard-fighting, scrappy team and still be class, and that’s what we want.”
You can read my column on Sampson’s act here.