Some fans just don't get the big picture

    I happened to encounter one of those sorry souls at the Oct. 18 volleyball match against Cal State Bakersfield. I was sitting in the front row like I always do, not minding my business, but not being more of a menace than usual, either.

    The victim I’d chosen for the evening was a Norwegian girl on the Bakersfield team whose gracefulness and refinement gave off the aura of a Viking princess. And trust me, “”princess”” is used very loosely.

    Anyway, Ingrid was back to serve, and in the typical manner of the people of my section, I started yelling. This evening’s particular cheer was “”Ja, ja, ja!”” as Ingrid obliged us by striking her serving pose, the ball squeezed between her manly fingers and her face expressing a delicate sentiment best summarized as, “”I eat small children for breakfast.””

    This Norwegian mocking of Ingrid amused us to no end, and in spite of ourselves, we started cheering for Bakersfield so that the Spiking Viking could continue serving. Eventually she faltered and UCSD took the game, but that’s exactly when the fun started.

    One of the Bakersfield parents with a digital camera strapped around his waist and a mean disposition on his face came and stood right in front of me.

    “”Yelling when someone is serving is really dumb,”” he growled. “”It shows no class, and it just proves that you’ve got the brains of an idiot. If you do it again, I’m gonna come down here and kick your ass!””

    I sat there somewhat dumbfounded as he walked away, but a few seconds later I found my voice and I asked my friends if they’d heard what I just had. They said they did, but I repeated it just to be sure.

    “”So that guy, pushing 50 in age, but lucky to put up that on the bench press, just walked down here, told me I was stupid and that if I didn’t shut up, he was going to hurt me?”” I asked.

    A few nods confirmed exactly that, and then the laughter started. Between belly laughs, we gasped for air and looked back at the man standing several rows above us. When the next point started, we went right back to heckling the Bakersfield team, and I know a tiny part of each of us wanted that old man to come back and try to follow through on his threat, but in a dazzling show of intelligence, he never did.

    The rest of the match was fairly relaxing while our girls pounded on the CSUB losers, but it did give me time to think about what I should have said to that parent.

    “”Excuse me sir, but did you just call me dumb? Last time I checked, your daughter went to Bakersfield, and that seems to suggest that you’re contributing from the shallow end of the gene pool as far as intelligence is concerned, so I think it’s time you close your mouth before you run out of words.””

    “”Why sir, you’re so generous! If I’ve only got the brains of an idiot, that must mean you approve of the rest of me, and to be honest, I’d rather have the brains of an idiot than the face of a dog like your daughter.””

    “”Class? Were you insinuating I lack class? Sorry, I couldn’t hear clearly because the sound travels funny out of your mouth with all those teeth missing — and the plug of chewing tobacco doesn’t make it easy, either. And if I were you I’d wash that cow urine stain off your shirt when you get back to the ranch, too. Now what was that about class, partner?””

    Of course, I’d never say any of these things in real life. It might have prompted the old man to take a swing and the law doesn’t look kindly upon people in the prime of their lives scuffling with senior citizens, but it baffles me that it irritated him so much. Sure, the team he’d driven several hours to watch sucks, and sure, the sooner we beat them the sooner he’d have to go back to Bakersfield, but a little taunting is part of the game.

    There are lines I will not cross when heckling, and there are certain things you just shouldn’t say. I won’t go into detail about what they are, but pick up The Koala and you’ll have a pretty good idea.

    Good-natured teasing throws the other team off and creates a home-field advantage. That’s what I’m out to produce, so I’ll continue to do exactly what I’m doing. This wasn’t my first run-in with an overzealous parent, and it probably won’t be my last. So here are two words of advice for the next parent who wants to stop me by physical threats:

    Bring backup.

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