Monday, February 23, 2009

Hating: Student Cheering Sections

College basketball is probably the least fucked-up sport we've got. I mean, think about it. Baseball? Everyone cheats. Football? Everyone cheats but no one cares. NBA? Nobody tries until the last four minutes of each game. College football? Not until there's a playoff.

Apparently there are other sports called "hoc-key" and... oh, nevermind, this one just says football again.

So college basketball has it right. There's a playoff with 64 mother-loving teams. There's excitement and pageantry. Everyone's got a shot. It's wonderful. Except one glaring error: Student cheering sections.

Like most other horrible things that suck, the popularization of the uniform student cheering section in college basketball can be credited to Duke, where the "Cameron Crazies" have been deciding that if they paint their faces and chant "Sweat Gary, Sweat!" it might help their team of privileged white people and referees steal more games.

Unfortunately, like most epidemics, it spread wide and with reckless abandon. Now, for some reason, every school thinks that they need to come up with some gimmicky name for their student section, as if showing up wearing team colors and screaming wasn't good enough. So Michigan State has the Snoop Dogg-sounding "Izzone," Pitt has the Oakland Zoo (They're ANIMALS!), and we used to have the horrifingly communist "Red Army." That's not even to mention the terrifying "eRUPPtion zone" at Kentucky. I just hope it involves Ashley Judd.

I thoroughly enjoyed the shirts they gave out at Penn State last year or the year before, though. Since up until this year Penn State basketball has been about as relevant as Vanilla Ice and only slightly more white, the "Nittwitts'" shirts said "Start the tradition." That's right... we've got to start some kind of support for our basketball team.

It's just dumb. First off, if everyone shows up wearing the same ugly mustard-colored "Oakland Zoo" shirts, it gives the opposing team a nice wall to look at. If people, you know, look different (This is difficult at Duke even when wearing different clothes), it helps magnify your numbers.

Second, it encourages people to be boring and cliche. Let's all wear the same shirts and do the same old, tired chants! Uniformity is bad. The best effects from the crowd aren't the giant pinwheels spinning around during free throws (which players always say doesn't effect them anyways), the best things come from individual creativity. Like the Maryland fan that spread word around campus in Durham that Nik Caner-Medley's girlfriend, "Myra," had a pet name for him, "Piggie." The resulting chant sounded an awful like one of those practical jokes.

It's just so played out. Every school thinks that they need to be the obnoxious Cameron Crazies, but haven't we spent college hearing about how good diversity is? Look, I know your crazy hair and your whiteout shirt and your Maryland flag you're wearing as a cape all helped Greivis Vasquez put up 35/11/10 against Carolina, but give it a rest. Knowledgeable, creative fans will always be better than a couple thousand kids chanting "Let's! Go! [Our acronym]!"

And if you agree, we'll have "The Blazers" shirts for our cheering section soon.


  1. Duke: 50% white/non-hispanic
    Maryland: 61% white/non-hispanic


    ...And emulating the Cameron Crazies couldn't hurt.

  2. Brian 'looking in your bedroom window' PotterFebruary 25, 2009 at 4:08 PM

    Of course you're going to win at basketball, you have 11% more people that can jump!