Full disclosure: I went to the University of Oregon, whose fans have, at times, been accused of let’s call it “over enthusiastic” behavior at sporting events.
Uncovered, I have stood in a football stadium in the pouring, freezing rain with 59,000 other people for three plus hours screaming things that if I wrote them, would get me fired. I’ve rushed the court of a college basketball game, even though the win was our first in the then-PAC-10 that season… and it was February. I have screamed at the television, jumped up and down, broken furniture, punched walls, gone catatonic and frightened my pet, all while watching a game.
Clearly frightened, my girlfriend asks from time to time, “Are you even having fun?” My answer is always the same: “This IS how I have fun.”
Kissing sanity goodbye for a couple hours is commonplace as a fan. While that may not seem like normal or even healthy behavior to some people, that’s life as a diehard sports fan, and those people couldn’t be more wrong. Letting go happens to be the second best part of being a sports fan (the first is winning a championship). I give up complete control of the situation when I watch a game. I’m partaking in something bigger than myself, which humbles even the most cocky individual.
Joining together with a community of people transforms lives. Some of my best experiences involve people whose names I will never know and whose faces I don’t recall, but they reveled in the same joy I did, and in that moment, people feel like they’re all part of the team.
Over the past few months, I’ve noticed a disappointing trend. Newton’s boys basketball team recently won its 12th game of the season, which Tom Weeks informed me was the most in the past 20 years.
Cardinal Basketball has hardly been Alabama Football or Oregon Track and Field over that time, and I realize how easily it is to become discouraged. After all, the point of the game is to win. Nobody likes to lose. Part of being a fan is enduring those tough times, and I can tell by the amount of bumper stickers and T-shirts I see around town that there is no shortage of support for NHS, which makes what I’ve perceived at the games to be so puzzling to me.
Each home game I have been to this season, which by my count is about seven, the crowd has been thin and the vocal support lacking. I can understand that people have work to do, and every high school team makes the playoffs. So, for some of those games, I can give Newtonians a pass, but this most recent game broke the camel’s back for me.
Looking to get the most wins by a Newton team in 20 years, against a team with a 2-20 record, with a chance to keep the season alive on the line, the crowd was as thin as ever. It appeared, at least by my count, that visiting Ottumwa brought with them more fans than Newton had in the gym that night. Those fans were vocal too. It wasn’t until late in the game, when the Cards were on the brink of losing, that the Newton side became involved.
Yelling and screaming to support your team makes everybody better. Playing in front of a crowd gets the players more amped up for the game, and seeing the players pumped up gets the crowd more involved. You can make that gym rock and roll, and the team will roll right along with it.
Not that all of the Newton fans are to blame. There are some who try to start chants and jump in the stands, but when I look up and see students in the back row taking selfies with snapback hats on, it makes me cringe.
Please, I implore you Cardinal fans! The boys play a substate semifinal in Iowa City tonight. It’s not a terribly long drive to support the school, players and team you love. I will be there, and I hope to see plenty of you there, as well.