When is a defeat worse than “just” a loss?

When the school’s student section makes a national embarrassment of themselves on television.

That’s what happened on Saturday night as Colorado State students chanted “Russia…Russia” at Ukrainian-born Utah State Aggies player Max Shulga. What made it worse was the chants came during late free throw attempts, as he was singled out on the court. It was so loud, the chants could be heard on the television broadcast.

Colorado State fought stalwartly on the court, nearly overcoming incredible odds as the Rams suited only eight healthy players against the much better Aggies.

But Rams fans were cowardly chanting for Vladimir Putin and Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, which has killed more than 7,000 Ukrainian civilians, as a way to distract Shulga at the free throw line.

Quickly after the Rams’ 88-79 loss to the Aggies, Colorado State Athletics’ Twitter account tweeted out these apologies:

On Twitter, many are upset with the first tweet apology referencing “the Ukraine” instead of simply “Ukraine.”

As explained in a piece by TIME Magazine in 2014,

“‘Ukraine is a country,’ says William Taylor, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009. ‘The Ukraine is the way the Russians referred to that part of the country during Soviet times … Now that it is a country, a nation, and a recognized state, it is just Ukraine. And it is incorrect to refer to the Ukraine, even though a lot of people do it.'”

CSU head coach Niko Medved also apologized after the incident:

And the Mountain West issued a statement as well:

Another embarrassment to CSU with recent history of racism and sexism on campus

The incident at Moby Arena on Saturday night wasn’t motivated by racism, but it was another shameful incident that has blown up into national news.

Sadly, people who have never visited Fort Collins or Colorado State University likely know of the incident on May 2, 2018, when police were called on prospective Native American students on a tour of the university.

Before that incident, and since, there have been numerous other racist, sexist and homophobic acts on and around Colorado State’s campus that are abhorrent. From the Confederate Flag being flown in the window of a fraternity, to Nazi symbols being found spray painted in various parts of campus, to a paper noose being found by a Black student in a dorm, and four students posting a photo in blackface on Instagram.

College Avenue has a timeline of various racist and sexist events which have happened since 2015, and it includes CSU presidents’ and the Associated Students of CSU’s responses to those events.

While it is well-known the rhetoric of former president Donald Trump helped bring white supremacy back to mainstream politics, and many of these events happened on campus during his presidency, it seems CSU’s students have issues that cannot be pinned on the former administration.

What happened to keeping politics out of sports?

Keep politics out of sports?

That’s what many fans have been saying for years — seemingly starting with Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the National Anthem in the NFL — and yet, those fans were the ones bringing politics into sports on Saturday night at Moby Arena.

How sadly ironic.

Hard, right-wing politicians like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, Paul Gozar and even former president Donald Trump have tweeted support of Russia in their unjustified war against Ukraine.

And now fans at Colorado State — which has a strong agricultural background, once known as Colorado Mechanical and Agricultural College hence the “Aggies” A on the hill west of town — have taken up that pro-Russia rhetoric as a way to insult and intimidate an opposing basketball player from Utah State.

It was despicable, disrespectful and detestable for fans to chant in support of Russia while Shulga’s family still lives in Kyiv, Ukraine. Imagine what Shulga must go through on a daily basis, wondering and worrying if his family will survive the brutal attacks on civilians which Russia is currently carrying out.

In sports, there’s good-natured trash-talking and then there’s this.

Wyoming fans, for years, have taunted CSU fans by altering their chant to say, “It sucks…to be…a CSU Ram.” And today, they’re right.

And while a small group in the student section at a basketball game doesn’t represent the university on the whole, it is yet another embarrassment for anyone who has attended Colorado State and woke up to the news this morning.