The only other time I was ashamed of (an admittedly relatively small but vocal group of) Iowa fans as I am now with the online harassment of our own Zach McCabe, was at an Iowa vs. Maryland Eastern Shore game in the early 2000's. Maryland Eastern Shore had a reserve center who was like 6'11" and had an apparent nervous or neurological disorder that caused a very odd gait and a visible tremor in his head and limbs. This guy came 1000 miles with his team for their shot to play on a big stage against a major conference team. Here was a ball player doing his best with what he had to work with and getting a college education to boot. He was clearly not a star or even a role player as (to the best of my recollection) he only entered the game in the 2nd half after the margin was already out of hand. But the Iowa student section took to laughing and ridiculing in an almost coordinated manner such that it was apparent as to who was the butt of their joke. I just remember at once wanting to leave the arena in shame of our fans and wanting to commandeer the PA and chastise the fans and offer a public apology to the visiting team. It seemed like one of those moments where an opportunity existed for someone (like Iowa's coach or a University official in attendance) to take leadership and quash the situation, but it didn't happen. The audible snickering continued until the end of the game.
Nothing at all was mentioned about it at the time in the media or by coaches and it was like nothing ever happened. I'm absolutely sure the player who was being laughed at and mocked was aware that it was happening. I recall wanting to be able to meet the visiting team in the tunnel to express to them (but especially to this particular player) my / Iowa's appreciation for the game and for their competition. Actually, I won't lie...I kind of wished I could just give the poor guy a hug. And I may have been taking it way harder than he did. He was probably used to it. As a clumsy 7-footer with a tremor, he probably draws looks all day every day. And probably Carver wasn't the only arena in which he'd been laughed at. Nonetheless, he didn't deserve to have an arena full of shit heads mocking him and before it happened I'd have never guessed that if it would happen anywhere that it would be at Iowa.
I bitch about Iowa Hawkeye sports as much or more than most fans out there, but I try to confine my complaints to the coaching staffs and it is usually only regarding a difference in game strategy. It's never personal and, apart from [redacted], I've never disliked an Iowa coach. I think in the case of [redacted] the feeling on the part of the fan base was that Iowa was not a destination job but a stepping stone and that he ultimately felt he was above the job. And maybe the present/future bears that out and he'll end up with the last laugh, but there is no question he treated his job and the fans at Iowa with the same amount or less respect than he received in kind from fans in the end.
My view of college athletes is that 1) they're amateurs and students, 2) they are trying to prove themselves as players and, way more often than not, feel that playing for Iowa is the honor of their lives, 3) they want Iowa to win way more than I ever could, which is to say, a lot. Therefore, I assume that they are trying their absolute best for themselves and for their school. Their best efforts should not be criticized. I know for a fact I could not have stood up to the level of scrutiny these players take at the age of 18-22.
Zach McCabe can only be Zach McCabe. It is clear to me that he works hard, gives 100% effort on the court and wants to win it for Iowa--what more could we ask for? It is up to his coaches to put him in the best positions to succeed (or to keep him out of positions in which he would fail). Sometimes this works out and sometimes it doesn't, just as we all have successes and failures in our work and personal lives. This post has become long-winded and rambling, but to conclude I guess I'd just implore us as Iowa fans to strongly and vocally reject those among us who would target players, our own or others, directly with online taunting or bullying. I hope Zach McCabe can contribute to great successes in his final month as a Hawkeye, and I hope his Senior Day applause is overwhelmingly loud and appreciative...his best efforts for the program through these last four pivotal years certainly deserve it.
Anyway, if you haven't had the chance to ready it Mike Hlas wrote a pretty good column on this subject here...
Finally, I'd love to see this Twitter bashing phenomenon formally broached on this site. This is a pretty strong/intelligent community (save a few trolls that are typically dispatched) and a good discussion here could become more meaningful than a newspaper column, as we represent the internet Iowa fan base intelligentsia.