Crowd Chanting at Basketball Games: Too Far?

By Devon Stoeber

At a professional basketball game, it is not unusual to hear the home team’s fans shout and cheer throughout the game to pump up their team while attempting to discourage their opponents. At a high school game, however, chanting things such as “He’s a virgin!” whenever a player shoots free throws, or shouting “bulls–t,” at the referees may be taking it too far.

Cheering is meant to be rewarding for the players. “[As a cheerleader], it’s definitely more rewarding when the crowd is pumped up, because that’s what we’re there for and it’s kind of awkward if everyone just sits there,” sophomore cheerleader Trixie Bowden said. Rude cheering, is a different story. “Even the cheerleaders get embarrased sometimes, because [the chanting] is just kind of rude and makes the school look bad,” Bowden said.

“Typically, our students are very well behaved,” Assistant Principal Kim Stiffler said. “However, when I do see rude chanting it tends to be at larger, more high stakes games when there is a high level of excitement and competition. I do not think it happens more at basketball games, just more when there is a larger crowd, or high stakes event. When bleachers get crowded, be it at football, basketball games or rallies, energy spreads. [Mostly] that energy is positive, but sometimes the negative energy can take over, too.”

The chanting may also affect the way adults and visitors view them.

Senior Hayley Murphy thought that the chanting was not a good thing. “Honestly, I think [the chanting] does make us look somewhat bad and immature, but if you look at college basketball games they do the same thing. I think it just goes with the game, and [so does] the energy of the crowd.”

Almost every college basketball game has energetic, spirited fans and students. The chanting at many of these games is much worse than of those at Tam. Rude remarks are often spat at players, most commonly when the opposing team is winning.

On February 7, at a game between Duke University and North Carolina State, Duke fans were heard shouting “How’s your grandma?” to a North Carolina player whose grandmother had recently passed away. This behavior, however common at colleges, is percieved as rude and wrong, and could be seen at Tam as reflecting badly on supervision.

“A lot of the times when they do start chanting things, either [local superfan] Deion or one of the coaches will tell them to stop, so as of right now, I think it is fairly under control,” Bowden said.

Stiffler disagreed with Bowden’s point. “I think it’s not a supervision issue as much as it is a student body cultural issue that needs to be addressed,” she said. “I see the same things, sometimes at school rallies. Most of the time we’re really positive, [but] on occasion there can be negative cheering towards another grade level. We need to make sure that the energy is in the positive direction not the negative direction.”

As a player on the court, however, the cheering can have a different effect.“It makes us feel great as a team, knowing we have our crowd behind us. It gives the team a lot of energy and a home field advantage,” said junior basketball player Dillon Blair, “Some of our coaches don’t like it when the crowd yells things with profanity, but in reality, I think its just part of high school basketball. For me, it doesn’t matter what they’re yelling, I just like that they showed up.”