By Jack Coulter
When you think of a sporting event you think of two groups of people. First you think of those on the field, the athletes, and then those in the stands, the crowd. The audience is an integral part of any entertainment whether it be participation in some type of show or attempted intervention through chants and cheers. There has long been an argument on whether or not the crowd is a good or bad thing with ample arguments on both sides. Some celebrate crowds for amazing spectacles for instance when Met fans sang Piano Man at one of the World Series games as recognition for Billy Joel’s presence. Others condemn the spectators for acts that embarrass an organization as a whole. Events like Cincinnati Bengals fans cheering when Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger got hurt. Crowds and their actions can get ugly, but do the bad action outweigh all the interactions with players that are positive?
Opposing fan bases can bring out the worst in people that is undeniable. Events from high school to the pros show this. There are multiple cases where after a game a brawl will break out like in 2011 where a San Francisco Giants fan was savagely beat by two Los Angeles Dodgers fans. For a more local example, two of our fellow students were assaulted after the boys basketball game on January 15th by a group of Stamford students simply because they were kids from McMahon. When things like this occur it’s easy to see why people think crowds should have limitations.
The WIAA, the organization in charge of high school sports in Wisconsin, has taken the stance for these limitations and attempted to control the crowd’s influence by banning several words and phrases from being chanted by fans including: “Air ball”, ‘Scoreboard”, “You can’t do that”, “We can’t hear you”, and much more. By setting a boundary for the crowd the WIAA believes it will be able to avoid violent outbreaks as a result of sporting events. However, by doing this the WIAA has taken much of the fun out of being in the crowd. The jeering and “battle” between fan bases keeps the game fun and interesting.
Though typically the negative actions of spectators are more publicized than the encouraging ones there are still plenty of positive and amusing interactions caused by crowds. One of these interactions garnered some publicity with Cam Newton giving the football from the previous touchdown to a kid in the crowd. There is also the well-known Lambeau Leap and even if it’s only for a brief moment, the joy of being able to embrace one of your favorite players is a unique experience. Interaction with other crowd members and players is what defines the experience of going to a game, without the interaction you might as well stay at home and watch the game on your television.
In the end, even if you weigh the pros and the cons, it is your opinion if there should be more boundaries on what spectators can say or do. For me the feeling of community and being the team behind the team is a special feeling that can't be ended. After all just because there is a few bad eggs you don't need to throw away the basket.