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Monday, November 17, 2008

Facism at Agganis

I've decided to forgo my Daily "Linkin' Logs" (at least for the time being) to bring to you my experiences as Agganis Arena last night.

First, the game. Northeastern battled B.U. hard in the first period, but Boston University out shot N.U. 12-5, a telling sign as the game progressed. B.U. managed numerous scoring opportunities in the first, but thanks, in large part, to goalie Brad Thiessen's efforts, they could manage nary a goal.

The same couldn't exactly be said for Terrier goalie Kieran Millan, who turned away 18 shots to earn his first career shutout. However, Millan was facing an inept Husky offense that not only could not get out of its own way throughout the game, but poorly returned to defense, allowing two fluky B.U. goals in the second.

By the third period, with Andrew Glass's legit icing-on-the-cake goal it was too little too late for the Huskies, even as they outshot BU 7-6 in the final period.

But beyond the game is the rivalry. Something that has really blossomed (again) with the resurgence of Husky Hockey on Huntington Ave. It was chipper, it was rude, it was fun and it was pretty typical of a BU-NU game (except many more NU fans at Agganis than I've ever seen).

And with that, I have no issues (respectfully) with the fans, who cheer loudly for their team and take part in the banter between fans (which admittedly can get stupid and take away from the hockey game).

What I took issue with (along with about 150 fellow Husky Hockey Fans) was the treatment we received at Agganis from the staff and personnel who felt it was their responsibility to ensure our experience (as paying customers) at Agganis was simply not as enjoyable as it would be for Terrier fans.

We were initially (as in 20 minutes before the start of the game) spoken to by an Arena official who warned us to "mind or P's and Q's" or we would be ejected from the game. Seemed fine. Husky fans are known to get a little rowdy and should be reminded that this is indeed an arena where respect is essential. Still, the idea that an official would seek our an opposing group of fans seems a bit questionable and slightly inflammatory to begin with.

One thing to note about Agganis Arena is their "Guest Conduct Policy." Ambiguous to say the least...

"Guest Conduct

To help make Agganis Arena a safe and enjoyable environment for all Guests, we request that all Guests be courteous to those around them and abide by all building policies and regulations. Guests who do not conduct themselves in a proper manner and do not abide by building policies and regulations will be removed from the Arena.

Boston University athletic events are for the enjoyment of all in attendance and should be safe and fun. Fans are asked to behave responsibly at all games and to cheer loudly for the Terriers.

Boston University, the Hockey East Conference, America East Conference, and the NCAA promote good sportsmanship by student-athletes, coaches, and spectators. Please support the participants and officials in a positive manner. Throwing objects of any type and any profane, racial, sexist or other abusive comments or actions directed at officials, student-athletes, visiting team fans, spectators, coaches or team representatives will not be tolerated and are grounds for removal from AGGANIS ARENA."

So let me get this straight, its a prerequisite to "...cheer loudly for the Terriers." - I guess that explains a lot to begin with, when part of your Conduct Policy includes cheering for the home to (and we're to assume only for the home team based on my experiences).

Its important to note that this policy is basically a nice way of saying, "No swearing, no booing, no entertainment, no fun and we'll kick you out if we consider you doing any of the following" Frankly its worse than the "negative cheering" policy that infected PSU a few years ago. What that meant for the game was no chanting of "asshole" or "bullshit" during bad calls, non-calls, or displays that merit such a chant. Free speech? - Need not apply.

Of course this does not apply to the tradition BU Chant of (and I'm quoting here) "Fuck 'em up Fuck 'em up, BC Sucks!"

The game began and fans on both sides showed their support, but cheering loudly and most noticeably; standing. Within 15 minutes into the first period, both team's fans becoming incredibly loud and raucous (but controlled in that the game was not adversely affected) the NU fans were asked to sit down. Immediately NU fans pointed to BU fans on both ends of the Arena and decried "they're standing up, why can't we?" And they were immediately told that said section (108) was a "special section," the NU crowd is distraught. They ruefully sat down, but continued to cheer loudly. Chants of "Bullshit" were quelled immediately by section "leaders" acknowledging that fans would indeed be shown the door quickly.

Things quickly grew to a head as an already frustrated NU crowd stood after two BU goals in the 2nd period. Soon enough security guards and Arena officials were lining up in response to the issue...of standing up during a hockey game. Nevermind the raucous action of the BU crowd, which included profane and abusive comments (towards both the fans and the teams).

Finally, officials caught up with the leaders of the Husky crowd and explained that not only would they be ejected from the Arena, but also arrested for such "disrespect." They again despondently sat down never to stand again until the final buzzer.

An unfortunate result at Agganis, perhaps the nicest Arena in Hockey East, but one with the most uptight and rude officials and Arena Staff in the entire conference as well. To not be allowed to stand up during a game is almost sacrilege. Then again, an Arena with all but a no "negative cheering" policy (as well as no swearing your little boy hasn't heard that word before...from you), I guess this isn't surprising.

So let me be the first of many disappointed Hockey East fans to exclaim:

Agganis Arena...Sucks to B.U.

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