Student-spectators are expected to walk a fine line between being spirited and respectful. When the two sides clash, the question is raised:
To what extent should spectators’ conduct be regulated?
Let ‘Em Yell
In most sports stadiums, fans are able to yell anything they please, regardless of their comments’ severity, and often do. “Go home” and “You guys suck” are common phrases tossed around by rowdy crowds, hoping to get in the minds of the opponents. So why is Blue Crew ― just a group of enthusiastic, passionate and excited fans ― not allowed to yell like that?
The answer is the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League’s spectator rules.
These rules dictate what students can say, do or wear to school-associated sports games. For example, artificial noisemakers like airhorns are prohibited. Students are also required to keep all parts of their clothing on during the entirety of the game, meaning no bare and blue-chested boys can attend school games.
In addition, each school’s coaches and staff, including the administration present, are responsible for enforcing the league’s rules and removing spectators who violate them.
“There are no restrictions upon Blue Crew or upon students that are not also restrictions that the adults or any other person at any given league game would have to abide by,” Assistant Principal Suzanne Woolfolk said. “Those rules come directly from our section and league; they have nothing to do with the school.”
While these rules may make sense when considering the setting of the games, they are completely illogical when considering the events themselves. Basketball, volleyball and football games are lively and exciting places to be, and the restrictions placed on Blue Crew only take away from the experience.
Without league rules, Blue Crew and all of its student participants can go all out with school spirit, create more exciting chants and signs to increase general school spirit and encourage more students to attend games. This will make the games more enjoyable for the student body.
However, there are some borders that should not be crossed, including extreme profanity and explicit body exposure. The league’s reasoning behind this is out of respect for the other viewers of the games ― parents, faculty and students from other schools. While the students in Blue Crew may only come to the games to have a good time, the other viewers come out to see their kids or friends play, and that experience should not be ruined by lack of etiquette.
Despite these points, Blue Crew is the single greatest source of school spirit. By allowing its members to create a more enjoyable viewing experience for the other students, school spirit will increase. The league’s respect for other viewers does not outweigh what makes sports games so widely attended. There must be a compromise between the concerns of other spectators and the efforts of our school’s most spirited students.
In the end, students who attend sporting events are kids who come to support their peers, make a lot of noise and just have fun. Good-natured ribbing is a part of sports, and it always has been. The league should remove its long list of restrictive spectator rules and instead rely on students’ ability to govern themselves appropriately. This way, our students can enjoy an enhanced experience at all games.
Control the Chaos
There is a certain familiarity to the high school sports gymnasium scene — the groundswell of stamped aluminum bleachers and the rising din of adoloescent howling.
This chaos in the gymnasium is led by Blue Crew — the paint-swaddled harbinger of prideful chants. Blue Crew’s presence can be felt through faculty-endorsed videos and announcements. The general operations of Blue Crew involve establishing relationships with athletes, conferences to discuss new spirit-raising ideas, awareness and attendance of all major events or games and the general communication of athletic info to the student body through word-of-mouth or adverts.
The current contention is to what degree Blue Crew should be overseen. Currently, faculty present at sports games oversee the activities of Blue Crew. This ensures, for the most part, that they behave respectfully.
As the rules stand, spectators, including Blue Crew, cannot attend games shirtless or indecently exposed, bring artificial noisemakers such as air horns, write or chant anything obscene or which reflects poorly on the school or encourage others to do so. There are some students who would like to see all forms of athletic support unyoked.
However, these restrictions are well-placed. When a student or group of students feels the need to attend a sports event indecently exposed or equipped with something with the capacity to rupture eardrums, they are not doing so for the benefit of the players or the audience, but for themselves. Athletic support should be about supporting athletes, not about indulging some primal urge to expose yourself or make a large noise.
“[My belief is] that the energy Blue Crew puts into the game through cheers and being loud increases the energy among players on the teams we cheer for, making them work even harder and strive to be the best they can be,” Blue Crew co-president, senior Stephanie Kouvelas said. “Without Blue Crew, I think we would all struggle to break free from the academic stress we are put in at this school.”
So, is this chaos important? Yes, cheering and athletic support is almost inarguably a good thing. This thing which we call “spirit” or “fun” can be a tool to relieve stress, to motivate athletes and to create a positive environment in the stands.
It’s silly to suggest that a laissez-faire policy toward athletic support civility is a means to grow ‘spirit’. If school spirit consists of a number of people who happen to go to the same school, yelling irresponsibly in a confined space, then school spirit needs to be changed.
In fact, irresponsible athletic support is corrosive to true school spirit. Athletic support should be about the players, not about the decibel of your scream.