Column: The fans give players a lot of support

Published 1:38 pm Friday, January 21, 2005

By Staff
They are a big part of the game, but most of the time get the smallest amount recognition.
Their team can be down by 20 points and they still cheer them on. Players get pumped up when they hear the loud roar after a big play or as they enter the gym before a game. No, I'm not talking about cheerleaders or coaches. I'm talking about fans.
Think about it, how fun would it be to play a game with no one there to cheer you on? Could you imagine the silence after you make the winning shot in a game or after you just won a district championship? You're teammates and coaches can only cheer so much. Who would you be playing to impress?
I have played sports here in Niles all of my life and have never really noticed the effects fans have on their team until now. It's a lot different being on the other side.
Sitting in the stands, I have noticed how much people yell at players. It's actually pretty amazing, yet can get annoying when you're sitting behind that guy who is yelling the entire game, "Get the ball!" "Hey number one you stink!" "Move, move, move!"
I will not lie, when players are in the middle of a game, they tend to block out a lot of the noise, only concentrating on the game and what the coach and players say. So the yelling and screaming of an individual fan is rarely heard. The loud cheers and screams are what matters and are what is heard the most.
It amazes me to see some familiar faces still sitting in the stands at area high schools games. The faces that were at my high school games and games years before I was even in high school. So many people stay true to their hometown teams. People who have been born and raised in these small towns. People who have children, grandchildren, even great-grandchildren playing. People who have never played a day of sports in their life, but avidly follow their hometown teams.
I will never forget the time the district championships were held in Niles for girls basketball. We usually had a decent amount of fans in the stands, but nothing like that night. I remember running out of the locker room and thinking, "Oh my gosh. Is this our gym?" The stands were packed from bottom to top. The look of the Niles gym when they have a full house seems so big and intimidating when you're on the court. It's one of the biggest adrenalin rushes I have ever had. Just knowing all of those people are there to support and cheer your team on is enough to put a smile on any player's face.
Though I am a graduate of Niles High School, and they do have some awesome fans, as well as Brandywine, I have to acknowledge Buchanan's fans. I started covering sports for them in the fall for football and girls basketball and now cover their winter sports.
It doesn't matter what sport it is, the stands are always full. I have yet to see a boys' basketball game with even one seat empty. Every game seems like it's the biggest game for them. And they cheer them on all the way.
If you have never been to an area high school game, whether it be Niles, Brandywine or Buchanan, I highly suggest going to one. Not only are they entertaining, but you will find you will meet some very nice people who can give you a complete history of that school's sports in less than a quarter. They can also tell you the name, age and grade of every member of the team.
So fans, keeping cheering, keep yelling, keep wearing your Viking helmets, your gold and maroon Bobcat shirts and your Buck antlers and remember, you are doing something for your local teams. Getting them pumped up, giving them encouragment and showing them you really do support them.