For as long as I can remember I have been an avid follower of sports. Until I injured my knee as a teenager I played multiple sports. Since then I have been relegated to the sidelines. In high school and in college I was a very loud member of the student fan section. Fans such as myself have always been taught about an etiquette that should be adhered to while in the stands. While I have no problem with this, I do believe that fans in the stands do have certain rights. Here is a short list of a few of those rights.
Fans have the right to jeer the opposing team. This seems like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised to hear just how many times a student section has been asked to be “polite” towards the opponents. Asking fans to simply cheer on their favorite team without giving the business to the bad guys is like asking a Michigan graduate to marry somebody who received their degree from THE Ohio State University. Sure, it could happen, but the thought of it just gives people an uneasy feeling in their stomachs. It is the job of the fans in the crowd to both root for their team and rattle the opposing players. If fans wouldn’t do this, there would be no such thing as home-field advantage.
Fans have the right to boo players, even if those players are on the team those fans are cheering for. I remember a few years back a I was in the front row at a Penn State football game with a group of my friends, and our Nittany Lions were stinking up the joint. Our quarterback in particular was having an awful afternoon. After he threw his final interception of the game, our little group joined in with roughly half of the fans in the student section in booing the QB as he left the field.
Several people around us thought that it was inappropriate to boo a member of our own team. I responded by telling those individuals that fans do not receive a free-ride to a university for playing Division I athletics. Nor do fans make millions of dollars. When fans such as ourselves spend our hard-earned money on a sporting event, then supporters have every right to boo anybody they want to. There is nothing wrong with a stadium of die-hards letting a home team aware of their displeasure.
Fans have the right to jeer referees at any moment during the game. Every time somebody tries to convince me that fans should be respectful of officials, I laugh just a little harder than before. First, there is nothing wrong with getting on a referee if he obviously blows a call. He is getting paid to do a job, and letting him know that he’s not earning his paycheck is not just within the rights of fans. It is the duty of fans to do so. Second, if a home crowd can sway an official by being loud and rowdy, so be it. Once again, that is juts a perk of home-field advantage.
Finally, fans have the right to bring a sign to a sporting event. Last basketball season myself and two buddies created “Claxton’s Crew,” in honor of Penn State G/F Geary Claxton. Our sign simply read “Claxton’s Crew,” and we made sure to not disrupt the view of fans behind us as best we could. We brought our sign to every game and held it high when our boy did something great, which happened frequently. “The Crew” as we were called showed respect to the fans around them, and that is why we never received any complaints during games.
As with any right, these can and should be stripped from fans if they cannot adhere to certain principles. Profanity and obscenities can be seen as going too far, and while I am guilty of yelling these at times, fans should refrain from doing so when at a game. Doing so towards players or officials is not protected under these rights. If a fan does take it too far in the stands, he may ruin the event for those around him. That just wouldn’t be right at all.