Culbreath: Lazy fansWritten by Matt 'Shaggy' Culbreath | | firstname.lastname@example.org
As a collective fanbase of American sports, we have got to get our stuff together.
During the past weekend, I spent some time watching the series between the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks (a series that the Kings would win in seven.) In Game 6, the San Jose crowd, desperate to cheer on the home side, started a chant:“Let’s go, Shah-arks. Clap, clap, clap-clap-clap”
Ugh, lazy lazy lazy. We have a total of two generic cheers in this country, and you’ve picked the wrong one. If you have a two-syllable name, you do the “clap, clap, clap-clap-clap.” If you have a one-syllable name, you do the “Let’s Go, Blank!” chant.
How about, though, you come up with something new? How about
the team, or the fans or the city, get together and develop something that’s uniquely theirs?
College teams have this in spades, but not many professional teams do. Very rarely does something along the lines of a “Let’s Go Buff-a-lo!” emerge. I know the Toledo Walleye tried to get something going with their Wendy’s Chili Chant on the power play, but I don’t think people were really comfortable with cheering for sponsors.
I guess my real problem is that I’ve been seeing what they do across the pond and get insanely jealous. Have you ever watched a Premiere League soccer match and listened to the fans? They make noise for all 90 minutes. They have songs for every player, and literally every situation. No, I mean it, go search for how the crowd jeered Jason Puncheon after he had to leave to, ahem, relieve himself. They had a song for that, and it was awesome.
It comes down to fan passion. There are fanbases that are passionate in this country. They have their traditions — Drums and dawg pounds and octopi and towels and “HIT SOMEBODY!” But it seems like once the games start, we collectively sit on our hands. Not to say we shouldn’t be watching the game, but we could stand to be a little … louder. But do you know why they pull out the Sound-O-Meter at baseball games? Because you’re all too damn boring to cheer the team on. We don’t clap our hands unless DJ Casper barks out “Everybody clap your hands!” and we all immediately clap. Ivan Pavlov’s ghost does a backflip every time we follow that order, you know.
Maybe it’s just a symptom of pro sports. You have an attachment to college teams because you’re an alumnus, or your father was. So you paint your house scarlet and gray, or you specifically order the midnight blue car, or you tattoo that block “M” on your bicep, In the pros, as Jerry Seinfeld once masterfully said, you’re cheering for laundry. It’s even harder in a minor league town like Toledo: You can’t get attached to the players, because the good ones get called up.
Select fan bases get it, particularly in the NFL; places like Cleveland, Oakland, Pittsburgh and even Seattle have rowdy fanbases. But taking in a basketball game has become a chore, because the arena has to pump in way too much music to compensate for the lack of crowd support. The more we can cheer on our own, the less we have to hear that “Zombie Nation” song.
We need more traditions. More cheers. More local flavor. More fish on the ice. Less “clap, clap, clap-clap-clap.” I’m willing to sing a song or two if it helps out, and I don’t even like to subject my empty car to my attempts at singing. How does it start? The heck if I know. Can’t trust the team to do it, or they’ll try to sneak a sponsor in. Maybe start an unofficial fan group. Put it together on Facebook. Throw some ideas against the wall. Buy out a block of seats at a game and try stuff out. Get rowdy. Forget being a fan, and become a fanatic.
Matt “Shaggy” Culbreath is sports director at 1370 WSPD.