Randy York's N-sider
To "Respond to Randy" click on the above link and choose "Randy York's N-sider" under "Area of Interest" on the new screen. Please include your name and hometown. Share your memories of sportsmanship. Your e-mail may be published on Huskers.com "Randy York's N-sider" page. Check back for new comments.
Sportsmanship: Alive and Well in Nebraska
Last night, Peg Kopetka finished another long, but glorious day working in the Development Office of the University of Nebraska Athletic Department.
She went home, fixed dinner and turned on her computer. Diane Mendenhall, Nebraska’s assistant athletic director for development, had sent Kopetka an e-mail about Beano Cook and sportsmanship.
Just as Kopetka clicked the link, her 12-year-old daughter, Cami, came over to check it out. Onto the screen popped Cook, a college football historian and still an ESPN commentator.
Cook talked about the death of sportsmanship in America and then laid out his evidence. After that, he gave two examples where sportsmanship is still alive and well . . . in the Little League World Series and at Nebraska, where sellout crowds still have the class to applaud the efforts of both teams, win or lose.
When Cook finished his commentary, Cami Kopetka looked at her mother and said simply: “Mom, I’m proud to be a Nebraskan, aren’t you?”
Her mother said, "I wish I had a video of Cami when she asked that question. You should have seen her eyes and heard her voice. She was so proud and so sincere."
Cami might as well have been asking her question to the whole state and all of those who live elsewhere, but still consider Nebraska roots to be at the core of their character.
“The two best things to ever come out of Nebraska are Johnny Carson and sportsmanship,” Cook told Steve Pederson last night when Nebraska’s athletic director called to thank him for the sportsmanship plug. Cook said he put the USC at Nebraska game in this week’s commentary because “Nebraska sets the standard for how fans should act” and the rest of the world needs to know that.
Even though Nebraska fans know it themselves, it never hurts to remind them. That’s why University of Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman and Pederson jointly signed an op-ed piece that was published today in the Omaha World-Herald, the Lincoln Journal Star and other daily newspapers across the state.
Here’s what Perlman and Pederson said in that editorial (read the editorial).
Reflecting back on all your experiences, at a home or road game or some other public place, when have you been proudest to be a Nebraska fan?
Respond to Randy with your comments.
The Husker football team is big on sportsmanship, too. On Thursday, Nebraska Head Coach Bill Callahan sent a letter to all Big Red season ticket-holders (read coach Callahan's letter). And NU’s three captains – Zac Bowman, Brett Byford and Bo Ruud – sent a memo to student season ticket-holders (captain's letter).
Our national reputation of being “Great fans” and “Great sports” is the result of every Nebraska fan knowing how to act every game, win or lose. Please take a minute or two and share your favorite sportsmanship stories with us.
Editor’s note: Randy York is Chief Communications Officer for the University of Nebraska Athletic Department.
The Voices of Husker Nation
"Of course we all know that Nebraska fans are the classiest fans in the nation with the tradition of applauding the opposing team as they exit into their locker room. Whether it be USC, Texas, or Colorado, Husker fans uphold the tradition every home game. However the one instance that sticks out to me the most is last year’s heartbreaking loss to Texas. After what appeared to be a sure win, the Huskers fumbled and Texas kicked a game winning field goal. Husker fans were without a doubt disappointed as they were about to leave the stadium when suddenly a "Go Big Red" chant started in the North end zone. Within the next 30 seconds the whole stadium joined in. Even after a loss the Husker faithful shows full support. It was one of my proudest moments as a Husker fan." - Chuck Zimmer
"I felt best about being a part of Husker Nation during the 1984 Orange Bowl. Jeff Smith scores and we're down by 2. The party I was hosting in suburban Chicago was a mix of Nebraska fans and friends with mostly Big Ten ties. In the frenzy after the touchdown somebody shouted, 'Whaddya do?' The Nebraska fans all just looked a little dumbfounded, then looked around at each other. We huddled together in a rugby-like scrum and mumbled, 'Go for two.' There was never a doubt in our minds. Go Big Red!! There is no place like Nebraska!!" - Tom Prentiss
"This probably seems insignificant compared to the Husker migration to the Notre Dame game in South Bend in 2000 or the 1996 Fiesta Bowl in Arizona, but I attended the NU/Kanas game in Lawrence in 1978 and sat among 20,000 red clad fans. The NU Marching Band also made the trip. The Kansas fans probably felt like they were standing on Omaha Beach. Only they didn't have any weapons to fight back with as we charged from the boats." - Kevin Horn, Alliance
"The best display of sportsmanship was the year that K-State won in Lincoln. My son Neil Puls and I were in the north stands, and some K-State fans asked if someone would take their photo. The photo would have shown the K-State fans posing with the scoreboard in the background. Several Husker fans said 'Sure we would' and even though we were on the short end of the score, we were on the right end of the stick for being good sports about their request." - Frank Puls
"Great article on sportmanship and great comments by Beano Cook. He hit the nail right on the head. It has become hard lately to recognize sportmanship when you see it because you see so little of it these days. It is refreshing to be reminded that Nebraska fans are the best in college football. I will be thinking of this as I make my way from Gering, Neb., to the game Saturday to be a part of the Sea of Red that will cheer for both teams no matter the outcome." - Jeff Kelley, Gering
"I was a player under Bob Devaney, so I am as 'hooked' a Husker fan as any. Born and raised in Omaha, I now live on the Big Island of Hawaii, but never fail to cheer on my Alma Mater. I know, first hand, how our teams have benefitted from our wonderful 'Sea of Red' on every gameday. I believe that they will continue to live up to their well-deserved No. 1 ranking. I want my fellow Nebraskans to know that they continue to make it easy for me to be proud to be one of them, even 7,000 miles from my beloved hallowed halls. Aloha, and 'Hail Varsity!'" - Sam Buda, Jr. (Cornhusker Kahuna), Hawaii
"I was born and raised in Nebraska. In 1984 my family and I moved to Fresno, California. It was very hard to leave behind my Nebraska roots and Nebraska football. The Huskers came calling to California on September 10, 1988, playing UCLA at the Rose Bowl. My family drove down to LA for the game. We passed and were passed by many a car with red-bedecked Husker fans. The game at the Rose Bowl was exciting. Unfortunately, the Huskers lost the game, 41-28. On our way out of the stadium, my family was treated to the most abusive fans from UCLA. The hollering and cussing at us because we were Nebraska fans continued for over half an hour as we made our way back to our car. Although the language thoroughly embarrassed my wife and kids, I was NEVER prouder to be wearing the red of BIG RED! What a complete show of non-sportsmanship by the UCLA fans. While living in Nebraska, I attended many a Husker game. Win or lose, we were always cordial to the opposing team. GO BIG RED!" - Dan Convery
"As the son of a Big Eight football ref, I've heard plenty about bad sportsmanship in other stadiums. On a positive note, one favorite story involves a Thanksgiving trip to Memphis, Tennessee a few years back. Assuming Memphis was a big sports town, I instead searched frantically for a sports bar to watch Nebraska vs. Colorado. When I finally found one, it was closed! As I sat in an empty parking lot wondering what to do, a guy selling knives out of the back of a rusty Pinto happened by, and offered one last suggestion. I found the place, walked in to find a few patrons ignoring a single old 19" TV over the bar. I was just about to ask if they'd put the Husker game on, when I heard a roar go up from an adjacent room. I followed the noise, entered a large party room packed to the rafters with Nebraska fans zeroed-in on maybe the only big-screen in Memphis. The Red oasis welcomed me like a long-lost relative, and we cheered our Huskers to victory." Rick Haffey (Omaha), Lakewood, Colo.
"A great display of good sportsmanship was observed at the Air Force Academy Thursday night. After losing a tough game in OT, the TCU players remained on the field (during the Falcoln's wild celebration) to honor the Air Force players singing the alma matta to the Cadets. My hat is off to the TCU program, it had to be tough to do that after such a tough loss" - Scott VonMinden
"When I tell folks about standing under the, then-North side of the stadium and making a "parade route" for the visitors to get to their locker room, and cheering them after a game, I get this puzzled look. Now (since 1986) that I live in the Philadelphia area, this concept is mind boggling the the locals! To this day, I still get teary-eyed with pride that "my" Nebraska brethren continue this practice. When I read how well the Texas fans were treated last year, I knew nothing has changed. Go Big Red (if you cut me...I bleed Nebraska Red)" - Bill 'Yerd' Eaton, Greenville, Delaware
"A most proud day to be a Husker was when Kenny Walker, playing his last home game at Lincoln, was introduced as a senior and the crowd went silent - and fans used sign language to salute Kenny who is deaf. That tribute showed how Husker fans really care." - Ginny Steinke
"My best memory was when my brother and I went to our first game at Memorial Stadium. Throughout the years my brother and I would watch the games on TV as we talked to each other over the phone. My brother being a Marine was constantly being stationed in various countries or U.S. cities, but it never stopped us from watching together. But that day when we could finally be together, Memorial Stadium, playing the Oklahoma Sooners, with 80,000 of our brothers and sisters felt like heaven. We never in our lives felt the warmth we were given by the fans that sat around us that day. My brother is now in heaven, but I know that we are watching together as he sees the games through my eyes.'There's NO PLACE LIKE NEBRASKA' GO BIG RED!" - Lisa Miller
"I grew up in Sidney where I graduated in 1977. I had an offer to walk-on at Nebraska but couldn't afford to do it, having to take a full-ride to another NAIA school in Kansas. It was the most difficult decision of my life, back then, as there wasn't anything more that I had worked so hard for and wanted the most. It has been 30 years since then and, over the years, I have been to the NU/Penn State, NU/Pitt, and NU/Wake Forest games (pretty much whenever they come back east as I now live in Virginia). Of those 3 games, the WFU fans were the best (Penn State was vulgar and threatened to fight you walking into/out of the game) and Pitt wasn't much better. But when a WFU fan turned to me after they scored to go ahead and said "In your face, Nebraska, what do you have to say about that?" I replied, "Good for your team, good luck to you, and now let's see how the rest of the game is played!" He stood there in shock and said "I don't get you Nebraska people." At that game NU owned the WFU seating and I met more fans who traveled in from all over the USA. The pre-game tailgating across from the stadium was all Big Red fans interacting with Wake Forest fans and I was just so proud. I also got to meet a ton of Big Red fans from Virginia too! In the end it was the best drive up and down the East Coast from home (in Virginia) I can remember! But it wasn't because of the win (that was nice, 20-17). It was the fact that I realized I was the most proud of the values my family, coaches, teachers, and friends in little Sidney had taught me 30-plus years ago, that have stuck with me all these years, and, yes, instinctively help you to remember to "return evil with kindness" wherever you are (or go) at the opposing team's home turf! To me, that is what is at the core of (and symbolizes) what we all mean when we say the "Husker Nation" these days!" - Nick Swanstrom
"My favorite sportsmanship story is when I learned what it meant to be a Husker fan. I was about 10 years old. My father got the opportunity to buy NU-OU tickets and we went early the morning of the game. We were eating lunch and saw the OU band playing as they marched to the stadium. I started booing them, they are the opponent. My father put his hand on my shoulder and said, "Son, they are our guests. You treat your guests with respect." That experience has always stuck with me as what it means to be a Husker fan." - Scott Stewart
"We were recently at Yale in New Haven, Conn., watching our grand-daughter play volleyball for Yale. I happened to be sitting next to Penn State Coach Russ Rose.....and mentioned the Nebraska/Penn State match. He talked about the great time they had in Omaha, and said after the match when they returned to the hotel a group of Nebraska fans came to their feet and gave the Penn State ladies a round of applause. He said: 'that just doesn't happen most places.' Then he said he bet the same thing would have been true had they won. He was impressed, and I was glad to say 'that's Nebraska'!" - Doris Schroeder