Sports Opinion: Thank You, Tam Basketball Fans

By James Finn

It’s been said in recent years that Tam’s student body lacks spirit. I routinely hear my peers complain about having to attend rallies and other school events, and many of my friends who play sports remark frequently that their fellow students rarely show up to watch them play.

Last June, The Tam News even published a feature entitled “Not So Spirited” that highlighted students’ lack of interest in our school’s rallies, dances, and, most noticeably, athletic events.

Maybe this is the case – maybe it’s true that, on the whole, Tam students like to pass their time elsewhere. But as a Tam basketball player who has recently had the privilege of playing in Gus gym in front of a home crowd that friends on opposing teams have described to me as “insane,” “unbelievable,” and “ridiculous,” I’ve noticed the opposite. Hundreds of students, more than I’ve seen at games since I arrived at Tam, have turned out  to watch this year’s varsity basketball team play home games. The result has been a raucous, deafening, and, as a player, altogether inspiring spectacle of sign-waving, chanting and communal support for a team that has had its share of ups and downs thus far this season.

At basketball games this year, I’ve observed a group of student-fans that shatters the “unspirited” image that has plagued Tam’s student body for years. I see a body of students who care about their friends and peers enough to spend their Friday nights cheering for them in an overcrowded gym, who take pleasure in communally backing a group of student-athletes working hard for each other. Kids I wouldn’t normally expect to see conversing with each other sit together, cheer together, and high-five each other throughout the course of the two-plus hours it takes to play a high school basketball game. Knowing that students appreciate watching my team play in a positive, non-exclusive environment makes me proud. (That environment took a less-than-positive turn during the January 15 game against Marin Catholic, when fans took to chanting inappropriately at MC players and fans. Check out the op/ed section for an editorial response to the cheering.)

Tam fans crowd into a boys’ varsity basketball game against Drake on January 7 to cheer on their team. PHOTO BY BLAKE VILLANUEVA

Tam fans crowd into a boys’ varsity basketball game against Drake on January 7 to cheer on their team.

I find playing in front of our dynamic crowd gratifying for an additional reason: as a player who discovered basketball later than most and just recently developed into a contributor on a varsity team, it’s validating to play in front of students who celebrate my every rebound, blocked shot, and made basket.

Tam basketball fans: although we are not yet halfway through our league schedule, you have already made this basketball season more memorable than any I have played. As a senior, I don’t want my final season to end any time soon-and for us to have any hope of making a playoff run, we will need you there in the stands singing along with the national anthem, waving signs bearing blown-up images of our faces, and screaming your lungs out after every made three by Jack Duboff and every blocked shot by Noah Haynesworth.