By Sally Mason
Football season has returned to Iowa City and college campuses around the nation, bringing with it the thrill of competition and the spirit of camaraderie among the throngs who will flock to Kinnick Stadium seven times this fall to cheer on their beloved Hawkeyes.
It provides a tremendous window into the university and opportunity to showcase all the good associated with the University of Iowa and its supporters.
Nothing diminishes our good story, however, more than irresponsible behavior exhibited even by a relative handful of people who wrongly believe malicious contempt for opposing schools is an appropriate way to support the Hawks.
In recent days, I’ve been appalled to see messages on T-shirts related to the tragic situation at Penn State that can only be described as despicable, shameful and in no way representative of the Hawkeye Nation. This form of unauthorized apparel unfortunately is not new, but has sunk to new lows by taking advantage of the terrible circumstances at Penn State to denigrate that university as well as other opponents.
They show nothing but total disrespect and utter disregard for the victims and families who continue to suffer from the tragic situation that unfolded at Penn State.
We need to remember that Penn State University is not just a great institution, it also has been a valued member of the Big Ten Conference — our conference — for more than 20 years. The university has been working very hard to right a terrible wrong that has affected a great many people.
Attitudes like those portrayed in signs and apparel alike not only do senseless harm to another college community, they also harm the Big Ten collectively and embarrass the University of Iowa, even if displayed by only one person.
The bottom line: We’re above things like this, and we shouldn’t allow such senseless disrespect in our midst.
We should renew our commitment as Hawkeye fans to warmly welcome student-athletes, coaches, and fans from all schools — including Penn State — when they visit our community and compete with the Hawkeyes.
This coming weekend, we welcome the Iowa State Cyclones to campus. It’s an intense, spirited in-state rivalry that annually has divided households and towns alike.
It’s also an opportunity to show, as Iowa and the rest of the nation watches, what the Hawkeye Way is all about.
By treating our guests and competitors with the dignity and respect that has become a hallmark of our university, you join countless others in Black and Gold who understand that passion and pride for their team does not and should not come at the expense of respect — on and off the field of competition.
I remain proud of the way that the vast majority of our fans treat visitors in a warm and welcoming manner.
I now ask that everyone make it their responsibility to make sure that these shameful antics of a small minority do not bring dishonor to the Hawkeye Nation.
Sally Mason is president of the University of Iowa. Comments: email@example.com