Cheer or Smear?


Paige Parton, Staff Writer

Before the pandemic, the Summit student section gathered at large high school sports games and was frequently filled with loud chants and rowdy students. However, with the general frustration students felt from crowd restrictions and new social norms, teens have begun to cross the fine line between being disrespectful and enthusiastic. Administrators agree that our student section goes through waves of overly-rowdy kids and not enough enthusiasm. 

Traditionally, the student section is a place where students can scream and shout as loud as they can. Before COVID there were no masks, large crowds and less constraints on the types of cheers students could do. But now, the Oregon School Activities Association’s grip  on what teens can and can’t do in student sections  is tighter than ever. It’s hard to stop students from cheering how they want, and what comes with that is sometimes a loss of respect.

Summit’s Athletic Director, Mike Carpenter, has an impactful voice when it comes to controlling the Summit student section. Sometimes it’s a struggle, but he tries his best while still allowing students to motivate their team.

Before, students had gotten into a routine so they knew how to cheer and when to cheer,” Carpenter said. “But, because the last two years when we didn’t really have student sections at all, students came in not knowing how to cheer, when to cheer and what to cheer… it was lots of reminding students of what students can and can’t do.”

Constantly reminding students of this becomes tough but sometimes is needed in order to contain them. Lots would say there is a spectrum of enthusiasm that comes from students. 

Kristy Knoll, the Dean of Students, was at Summit before all of the crazy COVID norms took over. 

“I never remember having to be right there in front of the crowd and be right there standing in front of the crowd and having to give such explicit, direct orders,” Knoll said. 

Now, administrators constantly remind students of what being respectful looks like. COVID took away lots of people’s ethics due to social distancing. Consequently, students started to struggle with cheering respectfully.

A Summit sophomore, Jakob Hansen, traveled all the way up to Roosevelt for the varsity boys basketball 6A quarterfinals—he is an avid fan of the team. Hansen enjoys cheering and chanting, but still thinks a bit of good-natured poking is part of the game. 

“Mr. McDonald always tells us to encourage our team more than discourage the other team but sometimes making fun of the other team is all part of the fun,” Hansen said.

For Mr. McDonald’s part, he seems to have a different take on the behavior of our student section.

“The student section is just not as positive as it should be, and that’s the line for me, ” McDonald said. “Is it supporting our team, or is it targeting the other team?Our purpose is to support our team, not belittle the other team.”

Another loyal fan, senior Nina Fleck, loves to get competitive and follow the lead of her fellow classmates when it comes to cheers. But, Fleck, like McDonald, recognizes that some students cross the line.

Sometimes it’s disrespectful when the leader targets a specific player or does disrespectful chants,” Fleck said. Some examples of this are when specific students make fun of how an opposing player shoots the ball or when the whole section unnecessarily brings down the other team for losing.

But sports have always been competitive no matter what sport it is—especially high school basketball.  And even our advisers who sometimes seem “too strict” at sporting events agree that negative chants are a part of the culture; it’s about moderation. 

“The student section is more rowdy this year, but not necessarily disrespectful…the negative chants have been going on forever, they happened even when I was in high school,” Knoll said.

Not just the fans find it fun to compete with the enemy, the players do too. Collin Moore, a Summit sophomore, is part of the boys varsity basketball team. Along with bringing hype to the players, Moore thinks the negative chants and loud crowd are part of the game. 

“The loud cheering gives the team more energy and definitely affects them in a positive way,” Moore said, “especially in sports, things are always gonna get heated and the fans are just trying to support.” 

However, there are still mean chants that don’t have an emphasis on positive motivation throughout our school. Summit, Mr. McDonald specifically, is trying to continuously work on keeping those chants to a minimum.

“This year, there was a lot of attention on some negative cheers, we improved on that over the course of the year and I think we need to continue that,” McDonald said.