Swearing off Swearing

September 24, 2006

YOU AND I have thesame problem. We swear too goddam much.

Growing up, theworst my mom ever said was, "Crying in the beer bucket!" Still have noidea what it meant, but it was serious. She said cursing was "for thelocker room." Man, she wouldn't believe how big the locker room is now.

I realized it acouple of weeks ago at the Colorado--Colorado State football game. The twostudent sections cursed like teamsters in two-sizes-too-small thongs.

They yelled,"F--- 'em up! F--- 'em up! Go CU!" They sang, "Bullllls---!" ata ref's call. And they chanted, "F—you, CSU!" (Clap-clap,clap-clap-clap!) And that was their clever stuff.

No student seemedto be able to pass a rival in the concourse without hurling a "F---you!" in the other's ear, accompanied by twin birds and projectile spittle.(And, really, some of the men were just as bad.)

It's not justColorado. We have become a nation of !@#$%&ers. Michigan hockey fansserenade each opponent sent to the penalty box with a dozen elegant words:"Chump! D---! Wuss! Douche bag! A------ ! P---- ! Cheater! Bitch! Whore!Slut! C---------!"

Higher educationat its finest.

That's why I'm allfor what they're doing at Boston University. Beginning this season, anybody whocusses at a BU home athletic event gets pitched out of the arena. "We hadto do something," says hockey coach Jack Parker. "People are telling methey're afraid to bring their kids to games."

It's not going tobe easy making BU hockey fans give up swearing. It's like asking frogs to giveup flies or R Kelly 15-year-olds. Not only that, but how will the Terriers playgames with only three players left on the ice? "I just hope an usherdoesn't come down and get me," says Parker.

Athletic directorMike Lynch and dean of students Kenneth Elmore decided something had to be doneafter BU fans cursed a blue streak during last spring's NCAA hockey tournament.Now the school will station cuss cops—officials, ushers, even Lynch—all overAgganis Arena's infamous section 118. "They're trying to censor us,"says Nick Williams, sports editor of the student paper. "I feel like itlimits my freedom of speech."

What the studentsare mad about is losing their favorite chant, which they yell 25 times a game,no matter whom they're playing: "F--- 'em up! F--- 'em up! BC sucks!"That's a speech?

Besides, until thelast decade, it was "Rough 'em up! Rough 'em up! BC sucks!" accordingto former BU and Olympic star Mike Eruzione, who asks, "Is it too much toshow a little class?"

At least BU hasthe guts to do something. Maryland's students would make George Carlin blush,but the university still lets them work blue. The best university presidentC.D. Mote could do was write a sternly worded letter to the student paper thatsaid: "Use of profanity will change when our students decide to changeit." Great point, C.D.! Even better, let's make the little darlings drop anickel in a jar every time they swear!

I'm no better. I'mcursed with cursing. I hate myself for it not just because it's disgusting butalso because it's just so unimaginative. When I shank one, I yell, "Son ofa f------ whore!" I wish I could be like my buddy, who yells, "Myheinous cousin!" Only his cousin can take offense.

Isn't it more funto spew something fresher than the same old, "Go f--- yourself!"? AnyRaiders fan could've scrawled that on his cell wall. Why not, "May yousuffer a severe groin injury not covered in your workman's compensationpackage!"

Thanks to the bookCuss Control, by James V. O'Connor, director of (this is true) the Cuss ControlAcademy, I'm making progress. According to O'Connor, I should use words thatsound like cusses but aren't. I've tried "That was Bolshevik, pal!" and"You nickerfutz, ref!" and "Sock-chucker!" People look at youas if they've been stabbed but can't find any blood.

You could alwaysunearth a dead language, like Sanskrit or Latin: illigitimi! (Bastards!) Orsteal from the 1920s: "Great oogoly moogoly!" Or go edgy Amish:"You son of a biscuit!"

If those don'twork, O'Connor says to pretend your grandma is listening. Hey, Michiganstudents, would you repeat what you just said? Your granny missed it.

Anyway, the worldis ugly enough without us turning on each other. So good for you, BU. Because,really, this s--- has got to stop.

(Oops. Sorry,Mom.)

If you have acomment for Rick Reilly, send it to reilly@siletters.com.

It's not going to be easy to make BU hockey fans giveup cursing. Not only that, how will the Terriers play the games with only threeplayers left on the ice?

RIFFS of REILLY

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WHAT'S YOUR TAKE?

Should cursing be banned at all college sportingevents?
Sound off at SI.com/nocursing.

PHOTOPETER READ MILLER

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)