One of the top Catholic football programs in the nation is finding itself in hot water after members of its student fan section directed chants of "We've got Jesus!" at opponents in a heated, intra-city rivalry game on Friday night in Ohio.
According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, then-No. 8 Cincinnati (Ohio) Colerain football coach Tom Bolden, pictured at right, reacted with fury when he heard members of the then-No. 26 Cincinnati (Ohio) St. Xavier student section chanting "We've got Jesus!" in the moments after St. X escaped with a narrow, 17-14 victory in a matchup of two teams ranked among the top 30 in the RivalsHigh 100 standings of the country's best teams.
The Bombers escaped with the tight victory after Colerain missed what would have been a game-tying field goal as time expired.
"That's where I've got to draw the line," Bolden told the Enquirer about the postgame chant. "[The St. X student section] ought to be embarrassed."
Of course, Bolden did more than just speak out against the Bombers' student fans. According to one Enquirer staff writer, the Cardinals head coach charged out of his team's huddle following the loss and yelled at the opposing student section in anger.
As one might expect, St. Xavier fans have spoken out about how their Colerain counterparts gave more than their fair share of abuse to the Bombers, as well. After an original Friday postgame Enquirer blog post cited the "We've got Jesus!" chant, multiple St. Xavier students reportedly wrote in to the newspaper citing the Colerain student body starting off the chant wars with a rendition of "We've got girls!", an attack at St. Xavier's all-male, Jesuit student body.
Additionally, one St. Xavier student wrote in to say Bombers fans have few non-religious options with which to respond to opposing fan groups because of the litany of chants they are not allowed to use (because the school's administration has banned them for being offensive).
One St. X fan followed up by saying: "The sad reality of this situation is that our entire faculty has absolutely handcuffed us in terms of what we are and aren't allowed to chant because they are so worried about our public relations, and the chants that our student section chant are nothing compared to what the teams we play are able to stay us. How about you report on the constant anti-gay chants we have to deal with week in and week out?"
While neither fan chant could be considered in particularly good taste, it seems harsh to consider either too far beyond the lines of good-natured ribbing from one fan base to the other. Still, when religion becomes involved, any to and fro can create a problem, as was the case on Friday.
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