We’ve got student support. Do you?

“We just don’t get the students to games, and I don’t know why,” he said. “You go to Seton, Chenango Valley, and even Vestal…they all have big student cheering sections, and for whatever reason, we do not.”

– Mark Abbott, Norwich head basketball coach

The endless debate will always continue. Who has the best student fan section in STAC? Section IV? New York State? Local high schools have their own basketball cheering sections, and since basketball season is over we can forget about the arguments about who is better…for now.

Recently, Patrick Newell, the sports editor for The Evening Sun in Norwich, blogged about Norwich’s lack of student support at basketball games. Although Norwich had a very successful season, going 15-6, head coach Mark Abbott can’t understand why there weren’t big cheering sections at home games. “We just don’t get the students to games, and I don’t know why,” he said. “You go to Seton, Chenango Valley, and even Vestal…they all have big student cheering sections, and for whatever reason, we do not.” Newell writes that mostly adults come to see games and the bleachers are filled – just not with students.

Take the schools where student cheering sections are big – most notably Chenango Valley and Seton Catholic Central. The basketball teams from both schools never feel like they are alone on the court, and games between Seton and CV can get rowdy, to say the least.

For me, it’s that school spirit that makes the games exciting. When CV played Seton in the Section IV semi-finals last season, it was electric at the neutral Johnson City site. Sitting at opposite-diagonal sides of the gym, the Warrior fan base rocked the bleachers and the Saints answered right back with a thunderous roar of their own. CV won that game and head basketball coach Bob Zanot told me that the great enthusiasm not only pumps up the players, but him as well. That’s what high school sports are all about.

But does having a massive student section cheering loudly really have an effect on the game? In NCAA Div. I basketball, where student fan sections can be the most organized and crazy in all of sports, researchers have found that playing at home means about a 4 point advantage for the home team. So in close games, the crowd does matter. In another study by Harvard University, a researcher found that by analyzing European soccer matches, for every 10,000 fans at a home game, it gave the home team a 0.1 goal advantage. In soccer that’s huge.

The Chenango Valley 6th Man, the Seton Catholic Central Fan Club, the Owego Free Academy O-Zone, the Union-Endicott Sea of Orange, and the Vestal Den Men can all be lucky that they are apart of a growing trend for schools to form official student cheering sections to help create the “Home” atmosphere that will help their teams win. I hope that Norwich starts something like these schools. With a good basketball program, Norwich could become one of those places, like CV and Seton where teams are afraid to play.


p.s. –

If anyone cares to bring up the atmosphere at a Chenango Valley vs. Chenango Forks football game, good luck. The loudness at those games breaks all rules of physics and common sense, and therefore should be thought of as a supernatural event that happens only once (or twice if your lucky) a year. It’s like Duke v. UNC, Yankees v. Red Sox, David v. Goliath, Mac v. PC, Good v. Evil, all rolled into one…on steroids. That’s why everyone loves it.

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