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David Sholy, Published April 27 2009

UP Center’s ‘security staff’ let fans insult foreign guests

The U-18 World Hockey Tournament at the Upper Plains Center was a great event for Fargo.

And, with the event being held in Fargo, it was only to be expected that the crowd would heavily support the USA team. But, it was rather unfortunate that many (fans) taunted and insulted the Russian and Canadian teams and fans – and nobody did anything about it.

On Sunday (April 19), at the USA-Russian gold medal championship game, over by section 109, some USA fans had a sign that said something like “Go back to what you do best – ballet – and drinking vodka.” Not surprisingly, the jerks who had the signs were themselves drinking some rather large beers.

Some Russian fans went over and said the sign was insulting and asked that they stop displaying it. But, it didn’t stop.

After some additional taunting, the UP Center’s hired security staff was called over for some assistance – and that resulted in the big nothing. Instead, the so-called “security staff” started following some of the Russian fans whenever they went out for food or even to the restroom.

Even more astonishing was that the idiot who runs the closed-circuit television system for the UP Center actually showed the offending sign on the big-screen TVs (in the arena).

Then, there were the Canadian fans – another target. At the bronze medal game, earlier on Sunday, another USA fan group had a sign that said that Team Canada could get their medals from the (flooding) Red River. The associated taunting was such that many Canadian fans actually came over to the Russian fan group later (for the gold medal game that followed) and asked them how to cheer (in the Russian language) for the Russian team, instead of the USA, their own next-door neighbor.

It was all rather embarrassing and could have been avoided. The hired security staff at the UP Center ought to be replaced with somebody who actually knows something about security and crowd control. And, the guy who runs the closed-circuit TV system there ought to be fired for stupidity. And, the UP Center ought to take a tip from a more classy venue, namely the Fargodome, where there is a policy against offensive signs and even T-shirts – and they actually take some steps to enforce it.

For the most part, the Russian and Canadian fans were well-behaved and very appreciative of the great hockey matches they saw. It’s too bad that some of the USA fans didn’t do nearly as well.

There is a small (and growing) “Russian” population in Fargo that makes many positive contributions to the community – and it was only natural for them to be excited about having a chance to see and encourage their homeland team.

Moreover, many fans from both Russia and Canada traveled thousands of miles to attend the tournament (and spent lots of money in Fargo). Perhaps it would have been a good idea to not insult them while they were here.