Loud mouths welcome

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 8, 1999

Sports Editor

Fan participation at basketball game is essential in my book. Yes, even that really loud-mouthed jerk in the third row that thinks he knows everything there is to know about a moving pick. Where do you think that the term ‘home-court advantage’ comes from?

Well, Monday night I was at the Troy State women’s basketball game and they made a ‘sportsmanship statement’ at the beginning of the game that the Trans America Athletic Conference makes it’s teams announce. In a nutshell it stated that fans should refrain from being rude at games. Wether it’s to the opposing team or to the officials, it asked that they should "hold their tongues" if you will, and not make those participating or simply attending uncomfortable.

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Personally I feel like this is a little ludicrous.

Whatever happened to the advantage of playing at home? Should we all just sit on our hands until someone makes a basket then give them a nice golf clap? When a team comes into your house and plays they should expect a rowdy crowd that will not only talk smack, but cheer and even act a fool at the appropriate times.

Is that ref wearing a girdle?

The statement doesn’t work of course. As soon as you tell a fan not to do something like be obnoxious or yell obscenities that’s exactly what they are going to do. There wasn’t the biggest crowd on hand that night to watch the Lady Trojans, but those who were there made sure their opinions were heard.

They started razzing the officials and the players and really it was all in the name of fun and actually makes the whole experience of going to a game better. Well, maybe not for the official who some of the students started accusing of wearing a girdle, but yelling out a particular player’s or coach’s first name or making a smart comment is never something that should be outlawed.

Of course there are times when the fan might get a little to irate and might get a little out of hand, but in my experiences so far at Troy State games that really isn’t a problem. It’s all in good fun and if it hinders the opposing team’s performance, so much the better.

Fans should be recruited

I remember a while back (and I mean at least four years ago), I saw a commercial where some of the bigger named coaches were sitting in a small room watching films and commenting on how much these guys could help their program. When the camera panned around and showed what they were watching you found out they were grading fanatic fans instead of actual players.

That’s actually a pretty good assessment to how important a vocal fan base is. Think about how much it helped the Troy State men’s team in their first TAAC game of the season against Jacksonville University. They even came back out and thanked the crowd after that one.

Fans are called the sixth man sometimes and with good reason. While many players or coaches will say it doesn’t hinder their performance that much you know it has to.

I think the best example of a group of fans altering the course of a game is at Duke University and their student section.

All the Duke students wear blue and white striped rugby shirts and if you’ve never seen a whole section of students wearing those shirts jumping up and down behind a goal, you could only imagine how hard it would be to shoot a free throw with that as a backdrop.

I read once that a class at Duke did an actual mathematical survey to see what method of cheering made the biggest difference on free throw percentage.

They found out that the most effective method was when the pep band director got the whole crowd to scream at the top of their lungs just before the shot. Then, with a wave of his hands they would all fall silent just as the guy releases the ball. If any coach tells you that’s not an unfair advantage to the home team they’re lying through their teeth.

Teams feed off of fans. It’s one of the main reasons they play. Well, that and the potential for a multi-million dollar contract if they get drafted.

Don’t go to a game and feel like you HAVE to make a difference because you don’t, but that one free throw you might cause the opposing player to miss might just be a game winner.