Friday, March 17, 2017

Crossing the line: Can student sections go too far?

Juliana Discher | Staff Writer
Student sections in southwest Ohio are known for getting pretty close to the line, while others often cross it.
Whether it’s swearing, destruction of property, or insulting players, many high school and college student sections can go from friendly cheering to outrageous acts of vulgarity. The Black Hole is no stranger to this, often dancing on the line between cheering and inappropriate behavior. Sophomore Alexis Hoehler said she usually refrains from taking part in the Black Hole because she feels their behavior is immature.
“Usually, they just trash talk the other team,” Hoehler said. “It’s unsportsmanlike, so it makes me not want to go. I don’t think the Black Hole is accepting of underclassmen, either.”
Sophomore Christian White said the heat of the game causes teenagers to act in a way they normally would not.
“During the game where students threw powder, there were a lot bad words going on because kids threw it in each other’s faces,” White said “Teenagers just go a little crazy in high school and college student sections, I think, because it’s unmonitored for the most part.”
Senior Michael Magness, an avid Black Hole participant, said he believes student sections never cross the line, and it’s purely for fun.
“I don’t think that there is a line at all,” Magness said. “You have to have thick skin when you’re out there playing sports. We recognize the weak link, like Tate, a basketball player from Sycamore; we called him fat. His dad didn’t think it was funny, but we all thought it was funny. Parents get offended easily, so we are being censored a lot more.”
Magness said members of the student section will go to any extreme to help Mason succeed.
“We try to get in player’s heads and make them make as many mistakes as possible,” Magness said. “I remember last year against Lakota West, a kid fouled out and punched the bleachers and hurt his hand, so he was out the rest of the game. Any time, we can get someone to commit a foul or turn the ball over, it’s a win for us.”
Comments can get personal towards the opposing players. Senior Eric Thomas said he’s taken part in several occasions of what others may deem controversial behavior.
“At a game versus Hamilton, this old guy came down because I was yelling at his son,” Thomas said. “He yelled at me, and I told him I would fight him in the parking lot if he wanted. Another time, we looked up this dude’s girlfriend and chanted ‘ugly girlfriend’ when he made the free throw. He made the first one, so we chanted ‘She’s still ugly’ and he missed the second one.”
When behavior becomes too inappropriate, Mason administration intervenes. Administrator Laura Spitzmueller said they monitor the behavior of students at games.
“Sometimes, Mason students will say things they shouldn’t, that are inappropriate,” Spitzmueller said. “Usually, I go to the Black Hole leaders and say something to them.”
Oak Hills senior and varsity basketball player Ryan Batte has noticed some of Mason’s behavior is inappropriate at times during games. Batte was on the basketball court last year when Mason students stormed the court following a close game won by a buzzer beater.
“As a team, we felt disrespected,” Batte said. “The student section is not distracting to us when we play, but doing all the extra stuff like looking up players’ personal information is unnecessary sometimes.”
Sycamore senior Nonso Okonji is a regular in Sycamore’s Ave Cave. Okonji said all student sections can get crazy in the heat of the game, but no serious damage is ever done.
“It’s all for good fun, but it can get personal at times,” Okonji said. “Mason dances on the line when they personally point out our players,