Air Force won but their fans embarrassed the Academy

Photo: Courtesy of Air Force Twitter

Let’s begin by saying the best team won last Sunday’s NCAA Tournament soccer match between Denver and the U.S. Air Force Academy – kudos to the AFA for upsetting DU on the road with a fine soccer performance on the field. Also, let’s further establish that our historical experience has normally been a very positive one with Air Force fans – be it lacrosse, hockey or basketball. Typically, our experience with Air Force fans are as exemplary as the high standards of conduct at the Academy. In fact, most of us DU fans cheer on Air Force when the Falcons aren’t playing DU, because the service academies represent some of the finest young men and women who serve our country with pride and distinction.

But yesterday was different. And we believe it was an embarrassment for the cadets and for the academy.

Sunday, Air Force fans turned the University of Denver Soccer Stadium into a ‘home’ game for the afternoon, helped in part by the notable absence of Denver fans due to DU’s final exams, the coming winter student break and a Denver Broncos game played at the same time. Good on AFA for traveling well and drawing north of 500 fans to the game—the majority of them well-behaved. Our issue is with the minority of AFA fans who weren’t so well-behaved…

Starting with a significant (and perhaps well-lubricated) pre-game fan tailgate in DU’s Parking Lot #108, and driven by what appeared to be a core group of about 50 cadets, these fans from Air Force stood as a group, loudly protested every call and became even more emboldened as their team generated a 2-0 halftime lead. Their loud comments, deriding the officials, DU players, the other service branches and even Denver fans in their section were constant and very hard to ignore. Taunting, more than cheering, was the theme as they chanted, “DU do you have any American players?’ In addition, a DU student photographer on the sidelines received non-stop catcalls and requests for her phone number during the contest by the Air Force fans, which was hard to watch.

After the game ended, this same core group of young Air Force Fans actually tried to ‘storm the field’ but a public announcement warned of fines for entering onto the playing surface. The Air Force fans then responded by singing  the ‘Na na, hey hey goodbye” song’- a derisive and unsportsmanlike gesture occasionally sung by home fans, but rarely sung by visiting fans. It simply capped-off the afternoon with a final bitter taste for DU fans (and perhaps some older Air Force fans) who were there to enjoy NCAA playoff soccer. In short, we expect better from Air Force.

Air Force Fans 3
Air Force fans were fired up – but did they cross the line?

On the other hand, a large contingent of fans from South Dakota traveled a lot farther than the Zoomies and had a major presence at the Summit League volleyball finals at Hamilton Gymnasium next door to the soccer stadium. Their University of South Dakota team won, defeating an undefeated DU squad for the Summit League title. They were loud and proud for their Coyotes, but showed great respect and class to the home DU fans and players. The USD fans acted like they had been there before – quite a contrast to our friends from the south.

What was your experience? Give us your thoughts.

24 thoughts on “Air Force won but their fans embarrassed the Academy”

  1. I was at the game – to be honest chanting “man bun” at Jared Jungjohann seemed pretty innocuous but then it quickly devolved with the constant harassment of the female student photographer, the implication there’s something wrong with having foreign-born players, and even messing with the preteen ballboys (at least one of whom said he was rooting for the AFA) and people using the path in front of the stands to jog was out of control.

    That was very telling that event security felt the need to form a blockade as the game was about to end.

  2. I was a college student once, and I will say I do like boisterous fans more than quiet ones. I don’t mind the odd off-color cheer, and I like it when college students can blow off steam and enjoy themselves within reason, and without too much interference from the “Powers That Be…” After all, college sports should be played for college students, and everyone else should understand that when they come to a college sports game, they aren’t going to a church service.

    That said, there is a line you should not cross.

    Visiting fans always need to be a bit more aware of how they behave, and the AFA cadets yesterday crossed some of those lines. Harassing a DU female student, taunting our international student players, trying to storm the field and just being drunk and obnoxious really stood out. At a college soccer game at DU with 1,000 fans in the stands, 50 loud and obnoxious ones can really stand out much more so than at a football or even a hockey game, where they blend in with thousands of other fans.

    The fact that these were AFA cadets, who are being groomed for leadership in the armed forces (and are held to even higher standards than regular college kids), made their behavior yesterday even more unusual.

      1. No, DU lost the last game in the Spring to AFA 3-0 and typically won’t play them in the Fall Season?

      2. DU has beaten AFA lacrosse 10 games in a row. The last time AFA won was 2009. But if you are talking about soccer, Spring games are usually glorified scrimmages where teams can experiment.

      3. Yes, AF won that game and the game that counted when DU didn’t have a choice but to play the game or forfeit. Thank you NCAA for forcing the game. Experiment failed!

  3. This is no surprise. Air Force students are repressed d bags who have no idea how to drink, no idea how to act outside corado springs. Their harassment of a female photographer is in line with their harassment of female DU students at lacrosse games. This kind of repressed aggression is likely why there is a rape epidemic on the air force campus. Just a disgusting group who embarass themselves when let out into public, when they should be representing their country.

    1. I was at the game and heard the typical taunting I have heard at many NCAA games all across the country. Most of it was comical and some pushing the line. I don’t know if “some crossed the line” but if they did you get that at nearly every sporting event…students and adults! In the section I sat in I witnessed a female DU student continuously confronting AFA fans. She initiated the confrontation and continued to keep it going. Most DU fans were enjoying the game as were most AFA fans… maybe we should categorize all DU fans based on her actions?

      As far as the other comments, you don’t have a clue and don’t deserve a reply. Sit back in your cushy U that Daddy paid for and enjoy the freedom and Liberties that were provided to you by the military you mock. Enjoy those sour grapes!

  4. if they showed disrespect, bring it up to the dean. writing an insulting article about them is just as bad… you’re not only bashing them, but you are also showing foolishness. take it to the school, not to the web.

  5. We are a sports blog so it is not our mission to correct AFA student behavior. That being said, it is quite fair to expose their behavior when it crosses the line. They do have an honor code so I am sure they self reported – don’t you think? I spoke to a coach of another team yesterday who took his two grade school girls to the game and he had to leave the game early because of the Cadets behavior. We actually took a very conservative position when presenting the facts. And, can’t help but disagree with your point that reporting facts is ‘just as bad’ as the Cadets behavior as you state.

    1. I think that you have a point but I think you went a little far calling out all cadets. There are a lot of good people at the academy and saying that all of them are unruly is over stepping. One because it was a small group of cadets compared to how many showed up and two because you aren’t any part of the academy life so how can you judge 4000 people based on the actions of 50 or so? I get that your mad but be reasonable.

      1. Please read the article again – especially the first two paragraphs. We mention that our past experience with the AFA has been positive. This is why this was so unusual. But at a public event their behavior did reflect poorly on the academy because they represent the academy.

    2. Let’s not ignore the fact that players on Denver went and tried to taunt the Air Force fans after scoring a goal when they were still down in the game by a goal. It appeared like the DU players were more concerned with taunting the Air Force fans when they scored rather than winning the game they were playing.

  6. This is simply inflated journalism… almost every negative point made in this article is exaggerated to the point of being untrue. It’s a college sporting event, not the Master’s… there is going to be noise. If there were issues with behavior, why was it not corrected? Why did nobody stand up for the “hard to watch” cat calling that frankly never took place? In fact, there was one specific instance where a cadet made a crude remark and the rest of them immediately turned and shunned him for it. If there were issues, you and other fans should have said something. Use the opportunity in the moment to make a difference, not an article to make waves.

    1. Frankly, few people feel comfortable approaching a large group of people at a soccer game to discuss their behavior. Most folks either moved or tried to ignore it…and some people with families left the match. As we stated, this was not typical Air Force behavior – that is why we were surprised and reported the story. I have gone to the springs for hockey and basketball and always had a great experience.

  7. Funny you bring up SD fans… I met some in the airport that were in for the game. They asked if we were treated as rudely as they were by some DU fans! They were cussed at by some students at the game and treated rudely by others. It all depends on your perspective and individual experience. There unsolicited feedback was very negative on DU? You may want to get their side of the story… not the same as your article?

    1. Even more interesting that you didn’t bring this up in your earlier comments. I was at both matches and I can tell you the volleyball crowd is comprised of mostly parents, a few alums and not that many students. I did not see anything you are talking about but if it did happen (I highly doubt your account, sorry) and I saw it, I would absolutely not condone it. Classic deflection, tho.

      1. Of course you didn’t see it through your Crimson colored glasses. It couldn’t possibly be true if you didn’t witness it. Not a UD fan… And It wasn’t my account, it was a SD fans account. So based on your slanted Titles… the article should be entitled “UD disgruntled fans embarrassed
        the University” since a few rogue fans said something that may have ruffled someones feathers. Classic sensationalized “journalism” with an obvious smear of sour grapes and poor attempt of cover up. I also sense an overtone of resentment because AF took an away game and Clearly turned it into their Home field! Thats the reason for the chant! It was their home field. NaNaNa

  8. The article was quite clear to point out that the bad behavior was isolated to a group of Cadets, and not the majority of Air Force fans. And I think all fan bases, including DU, have students (and maybe even a few non-students) who are prone to go occasionally overboard. Most of the time, that kind of thing goes unnoticed, especially when the overall crowd is large, but on that day, in that crowd of 1,000 mostly mellow soccer fans, the 50 cadets came off as obnoxious. And if DU fans acted like that, I would call them out on it, too.

    And as for DU Moshe Perez’s post-goal display toward the Cadets, I have no issue with it. Players are on the field, performing with more emotion than any of us. Perez was playing what would be his final game as a college athlete, and scoring in the NCAA Tournament, something that 99.9999% of us would never be able to do. If he wants to rile up the crowd, that’s perfectly ok with me, and if an Air Force player had done the same thing, I’d be behind him too.

    1. The sensationalized article was Clearly titled “AirForce won but their Fans embarrassed the Academy”. Also, the chant by AFA as mentioned is typical college antagonism… some how it was viewed as being in worst taste because it was sung by AFA Cadets? They are college students with much bigger responsibilities and commitments… but still college students. Don’t be so sensitive! UD lost and AF was the better team. USD was also apparently the better team and received similar backlash. Seems like a trend??

    2. BS. If an AF player had done that this article would’ve been centered around the players and the fans… nonetheless, you may want to ask Perez why he got a yellow in that game

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