Yesterday, I posted a picture of a few Hawai'i players giving the finger to our student section while performing a haka. Apparently, the incident is causing a bit of a stir and was mentioned in Atlanta Journal Constitution, though it lacks the part about the finger. There is a bit about it at the end of this AP article as well. The article, of course, paints Alabama as a bunch of intolerant, hostile rednecks:
Before kickoff, the Warriors gathered in front of the Alabama student section and performed a traditional Polynesian dance as "Sweet Home Alabama'' played over the loudspeakers. The boos nearly drowned out Lynyrd Skynyrd.
First of all, at the very worst, the boos could only be described as a light smattering. They weren't even close to drowning anything out (this reporter has clearly never been around for a game against Tennessee or Auburn.) They did the haka about 15-20 minutes before kickoff (Alabama had already returned to their dressing room) and the stadium wasn't even full at that point:
As I mentioned in the comments section of my previous post:
To me, it's just another lazy writer taking things out of context. The haka is a short dance, this version on YouTube by the New Zealand All Blacks clocks in at 49 seconds. The booing did not start immediately, I personally believe it was in reaction to "the finger." Even with what little booing was going on, the whole episode went largely unnoticed in my section.
Like I said, to me, it's lazy journalism falling back on an old stereotype. From what I can tell, the Hawai'i fans felt incredibly welcome in Alabama. Here are some quotes I pulled from the SportsHawaii.com message boards.
From a thread called Thank You Alabama:
From another thread:
The game was great, the fans were awesome and I can now say I have experience true southern hospitality. - Beowulf213
I too have been to New Zealand, have seen the All Blacks play and am "pro Haka." For some perspective on the Haka's place in sport, I emailed a friend from New Zealand that's a big rugby fan and asked him about the situation at Bryant-Denny. He said he'd never seen anyone do a haka facing the other team's fans (he said New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga and others all do Hakas before rugby games and that the teams will simultaneously perform hakas to each other.) He said if a Haka is done pregame, it is done towards the other team, and if it's done post-game, then it is done towards their own fans as a tribute to them.
It just irks me to be painted as intolerant by lazy journalists who apparently have little to no idea about what they're writing about. From what I can tell, Hawai'i fans felt very welcomed and many want to see the series continue because of the warmth and camaraderie between fans.
For what it's worth, The Honolulu Star Bulletin reported before the game that the Haka wouldn't be done in Alabama.