Student sections may be at future risk


With high school jeering rules changing, it might not be long until the NCAA might change as well.

RYAN HERRING, Sports Columnist

Hypothetical situation: you are at the McLeod Center sitting in the student section and Ron Baker from Wichita St. chucks up a wide open three, leaving it two-feet short of the rim (highly unlikely, but fun to think about). Naturally you want start the “air ball” chant, but you can’t because the NCAA put in rules that you cannot chant anything negative towards any NCAA athletes. Sounds pretty ridiculous doesn’t it?

Well apparently to the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA), this makes a whole lot of sense. They have a Sportsmanship Reference Guide that suggests that fans should not chant anything discouraging such as “air ball” or “scoreboard” because these are inappropriate.

The list doesn’t just stop there; it goes on and on. It is understandable why they are looking out for high school students and are trying to eliminate any vulgar chanting towards the visiting teams, but most of these chants they find as sportsmanship infractions are just laughable. Now the WIAA is taking a lot of heat for their silly guidelines.

ESPN’s big-time college basketball analyst, Jay Bilas, said it best with his tweet of a picture of a group of nuns: “Under the new rules, a crowd behaving in an acceptable fashion at a Wisconsin high school basketball game.”

There are also numerous high school student sections posting pictures with duct tape over their mouths making a mockery of the reference guide.

Student sections have always been a big part in high school and college athletics, especially basketball. Home crowds add an element of fun to the game and really bring up the energy in the coaches, players and, of course, fans. There is nothing quite like competing in front of a group of fans cheering you on to victory.

On the flip side, it is always an exciting challenge for the opposing teams to silence the home crowd by coming into a hostile environment and snagging a win on their opponent’s home floor.

This particular Sportsmanship Reference Guide is aimed specifically towards Wisconsin high schools. It has also been around for quite some time, but there was recently an email sent in December that brought the old recommendations increased attention.

UNI student John Fieldhouse, former high school basketball player in the state of Wisconsin, disapproved of WIAA’s move:

“As a former high school player, I loved getting the student section going at home games and silencing them on the road,” Fieldhouse said.

Fieldhouse also added that he thought “they are trying to take away a big part of what makes the game so fun.”

The WIAA wants to reiterate and emphasize these policies. As of now, high schools are the only ones that this issue is relevant to. However, you never know. Given how soft things are in our society today, it might be that that softness is getting carried over to the NCAA as well.

This has got to make you feel for those teenagers being asked to contain themselves. It’s like telling a kid not to get too excited for Christmas. Cheering and rowdy crowds is great for the game, and the thought of sportsmanship/rules committees is going in the direction of eliminating certain chants is sad. The chant “push it” seems too fitting for the issue.