There has recently been quite the fuss at South Eugene about heckling at sporting events. Tracing back to the thick of soccer season, local administration has been cracking the whip on fan involvement, and students have recently responded with further misbehavior, all over the simple concept of trash talk. Toward the start of the dispute, administration only limited the use of specific numbers or names at sporting events, but have since begun to combat simple “disrespectful” comments, which are ultimately left to a jury of staff members who have seemed to misunderstand the true purpose of students’ words.
At the end of the day, sports are sports. The audience plays an impactful role on almost any stage of competition, and taking away students’ words is certainly a way to get them riled up. As a former player of many different sports on many different levels, the abusive crowd has always been there. I have had opposing coaches in my face talking more trash than any of the somewhat loud fanatics at South Eugene High School. Giving an opposing player a mouthful is now seen as a sin within our halls, and although some of these comments are undoubtedly disrespectful, that’s kind of the point.
Playing a mind game against the enemy from the bleachers is as good as it gets for a pure sports fan. As they try to ignore your blissful phrases, visiting athletes soon begin to get out of sync, leading to poorer play. Even at that, a case such as this is incredibly rare, as most varsity athletes are able brush off heckling onlookers out of pure self-respect. So, even if students heckled at a blistering rate from start to finish, only a very select group of players throughout the season will even be flustered.
Traveling on the road to other schools, I have seen an absolute barrage of completely disgusting behavior with no consequence served. In North Medford for example, one of South’s players went down with an injury on the basketball court. What followed from the students was a combination of emphatic cheers and “boo-hoos,” that rang throughout the gym without an attempt of control or restriction. How is it fair for our athletes to face a full, uninfluenced wrath of abuse at each road game, but receive no mental edge at home. An argument could be made that silence is far more disorienting than a fair piece of trash talk, so the entire concept seems pointless.
Dear administration: There is no winning here. If the kids want to impact the game as much as possible, they should at least get the chance (as long as they don’t stoop to the level of blatant profanity). There is no harm done in a quick exchange with a visiting player, I promise. It is the prime of our lives for crying out loud; someone needs to let us live it.