By Ernie Fowler – Nashville CHSD #99
Throughout my career in education, I’ve seen a number of different high school sports fans. From what I’ve seen at Nashville, our fans are passionate but have sense. I’ve noticed that those who come out to support the Hornets or Hornettes typically bring a positive energy to our kids. I’ve heard good natured cheering……”that’s another Hornet…..First Down!” for example. Those are the types of cheers and support that help to motivate our players. I think it is important to be loud, to be proud, to be fired up, but equally important….to be respectful of all athletes, coaches, and officials.
We have to keep in mind that the players are just kids. If they goof up, they know it and feel bad about it. If they don’t know it, we have coaches who are ready to point out the error and help the player to do better. I’ve always thought the most important role our fans have is to encourage our young people.
Officials, I believe, do their best. We have to keep in mind that they are human and they don’t see every violation. As a matter of fact, we don’t want them to see every violation. Think how long a game would take to be played if the whistle blew on EVERY play. Some officials are better than others. I see nothing wrong with expressing disagreement about a call…..”Hey ref, that’s a walk”. There is nothing wrong with talking about referee’s calls as long as the talk is respectful…..no bad language, no questioning their parentage, etc.
I’ve always hated the long walk to escort a fan out of the gym following comments that got a bit too personal. In one school, I had a fan that was always obnoxious and loud toward IHSA officials. In one particular game, the ball bounced into the crowd and was caught by, guess who, the token fan. When he got his hands on the ball, I decided to save time and immediately begin my walk. I knew this encounter wasn’t going to end well. Sure enough, the fan held the ball with the referee asking him for it. Well, the ref got it. The fan threw the ball at the referee causing the ref to do mid-air splits to avoid being struck in a rather sensitive place. Yep, I got the signal but was already at the seat. He and I exited the gym to a mix of cheers and boos.
My worst experience with fan ejections began with a coach having to be escorted to the locker room following his second technical foul. From there, I escorted a player from the opposing team to the locker room. I would go on to escort three different fans out of the building at various points throughout the remainder of the game. With each walk, the hatred toward me grew more intense. I felt like Vince McMahon on a WWE wrestling show! Following the game, I was called a “cheater”, “despicable”, and all other sorts of names by our disgruntled visitors. I had nothing to do with hiring the referees or deciding to eject fans yet I became the face of all that was perceived as evil in high school basketball. All in all, it was an ugly night that soiled the game.
I appreciate our loyal fans who cheer for our kids. The kids need to remember being applauded and supported during the games. High school athletics provide a lifetime of memories. Those memories shouldn’t be tainted by the antics of the numbskulls who want to become the star of the show. The only stars should be our hard-working boys and girls. To them I say, “Go Hornets/Hornettes!”.