When fans at Nebraska football games come together, they can create a hostile environment for the Huskers’ opponents. During Saturday’s game matching Nebraska against visiting UCLA, Husker fans have a heightened obligation to be anything but hostile.
When kickoff comes at 11 a.m., it will come under the cloud of a tragedy within the UCLA program that took place less than a week ago. Nick Pasquale, a redshirt freshman receiver for the Bruins, died Sunday morning after he was hit by a car. A moment of silence will be held at the game, and players from both teams will honor Pasquale by adorning his No. 36 on their uniforms.
But in the presence of a team that lost one of its players, those symbols of respect are the smallest Nebraska fans can offer. Those who attend the game must act as respectfully as possible toward a football team and fan base that have endured an emotionally taxing week.
The situation surrounding UCLA’s visit to Lincoln, while not comparable in scope, is reminiscent of Nebraska’s trip to Penn State in 2011, the week Nittany Lions’ coach Joe Paterno was fired after more than 40 years of leading the football team.
The atmosphere that week and at the game was an emotionally charged one, but the teams and fans treated each other with the respect necessary to alleviate a sensitive situation. Before that game, Nebraska running backs coach Ron Brown led a prayer for both teams at midfield.
Perhaps a similar scene could play out as the Huskers and the Bruins prepare for a football game that suddenly seems far less important than it did before. But fans need to treat one another with sensitivity in mind.
For Nebraska fans, that is normally not a problem — but this weekend, it is of the utmost importance.