Dave Walsh: Even Announcers Can Be Done Dirty During Border War Rivalry Games

Dave Walsh writes: Midway through the first half I got a chill. It took a few moments before I realized what had happened. Someone seated directly behind had done me dirty and poured a soft drink down the back of my neck. It was enough to cut a wide, cold swath down my back to my pants. I was drenched with cola from neck to rear end.

Dave Walsh

February 24, 20234 min read

Dave walsh Uw
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

College basketball teams across America are playing the very end of their regular season schedules these days. These are very important games as teams are jockeying for position in upcoming post-season tournaments, which just happens to be that one last chance to get a spot in the Big Dance.

So, the games are important and, as always, where they are being played is a factor.

We’ve discussed this often over the years, but college basketball is a great example of just how much of an effect on the game where it’s played really is. The venue is a huge key in a sport where fans are literally right on top of the action. There are fans within reach of the players on all sides of the court. 

Basketball players can hear fans talking to one another. And they can really hear, quite well, the loud expletives made directly at them.

Some venues have a special reputation because of their special fans.

The Wyoming Cowboys play their arch rivals tonight, and the Wyoming-Colorado State game will be played on the CSU campus in Fort Collins, Colorado, at Moby Arena.

I had the honor of covering Cowboy Basketball for 36 seasons as the play-by-play announcer on the Cowboy Sports Radio Network. So I had a unique experience announcing 36 Wyoming/CSU basketball games in Moby Arena. It was actually Moby Gym for many seasons, but recently renamed Moby Arena.

We all know that it is more difficult to play an opponent on their floor. The road is tough in all sports, but I think road gyms and arenas are the most difficult venues.

And in my experience over the years, Moby Gym has been one of the most difficult of all.

Of course, there were many reasons why this is so, not the least of which is that the Rams are simply the most bitter of all Cowboy rivals. Just across the border from one another, the Border War has been on the schedule for a century and the two have been conference rivals forever. 

The venue itself is ideal for the staging of a rivalry. Or maybe Moby Arena is the very example of how “not” to do it. I’m not sure which, but I do know that it was always a difficult place to play.

And it was difficult for all Wyoming folks concerned. It was tough on coaches, player and the Wyoming fans who would attend, and it was even hard on rival announcers.

At Moby Arena, the student section was behind the basket in front of the visiting bench. This is a common scene at many college arenas, but many arenas do not have the student section that CSU has. 

Especially when the Cowboys come to play.

And the fans are seated, many in bleachers, right down to the floor. The feet of those in the front row are just a few feet from the court.

The visiting radio announcers are located next to the Cowboys bench on the floor along press row. It’s a great spot to view and call the action. There is a narrow space directly behind the announcers, and the bleacher seats directly behind that. 

That’s the first row of a section that is jam-packed with avid Ram fans. They are loud, lusty and boisterous.

My everlasting memory of Moby Arena is from just my second Wyoming/CSU broadcast in Fort Collins.

It was February 1986, and Moby Arena was packed for the annual backyard brawl. The place was thick with tension and the fans in full throat. 

Midway through the first half, in a typically hotly contested Border War basketball game, I got a chill. That’s right, a sudden chill down my spine. I experienced this unusual feeling as I was announcing.

It took a few moments before I realized what had happened. I asked Kevin McKinney, my longtime partner on the broadcasts, to look at my back. By the way, I was wearing, for the first-time, a beautiful yellow, v-neck sweater over my shirt and tie. The sweater was a gift, and it showed exactly what had happened to cause this chill I had.

Someone seated directly behind had done me dirty. 

Someone poured a soft drink down the back of my neck. It was enough to cut a wide, cold swath down my back to my pants. I was drenched with cola from neck to rear end.

And, of course, when I finally realized what had happened and took an angry glance at the group of Rams fans behind me. I saw nothing but eyes looking up at the ceiling.

Yes, the road can be tough for everyone!

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Dave Walsh

Sports Columnist