TAYLOR: Fine line between passion, provocation
March 13, 2017
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If you have attended a primetime sports event at Roseville High School lately, you are acquainted with the student section. This spirited mass of orange, white and black rages, rants, yells, boos, cheers, and chants the fan-rite-of-passage chant, “I believe that we will win” at every single home football game and most home basketball games. Compared to student participation of previous years, this year’s class has enthusiasm and Roseville spirit on a higher level than in a very, very long time.
The student section makes every game even more entertaining and enjoyable, as the rampant, wild and contagious energy of the students spreads to the home crowd (and gets under the skin of the visitors). I know from personal experience as a football player that a crowd that is into a game and supports their team passionately, no matter the situation, makes the player want succeed for his home crowd and acts as an energy boost.
When the Tiger Cage was yelling and chanting and cheering loudly, even when our varsity football team was down by over 30 points in the fourth quarter of our playoff game, I knew we had a deeply loyal fan base.
However, that extroverted passion is not without its controversial ties – and certainly not without its boundaries.
A perfect example of passion going too far was exhibited when Roseville played Yuba city in the playoff game. Don’t get me wrong, 95 percent of what the Tiger Cage said and did in that game was just like any other game. It’s completely within limits of acceptable behavior at a sporting event, and if it wasn’t within basic rules, it was excused as just “fan passion” which, as established before, is a positive thing. It’s the other 5 percent crossing the line that can result in consequences that would be a lot more than Tiger Cage bargained for.
Throughout the entire Yuba City game, the Tiger Cage had insulted, demoralized and degraded Yuba City, reacting to every missed Yuba shot as if a Roseville player had broken the ankles of all five Yuba city players with one juke and drained a full court three with one arm tied behind their back. The chants of “You can’t do that” and “Air ball” filled Moeller gym.
Yuba City was told to go “back to cow town.” “Great Clips” was shouted to a kid with an unusual haircut. Referencing Yuba City going “under water” from the Oroville Dam evacuation. Yuba people were mocked physically with stereotypes by students dressing up in “redneck” camouflage garbs and hunting attire. They even went as far as to proclaim that “Yuba City likes Arby’s.” Pure Savagery.
However this endless stream of taunts would prove to be regrettable, as it was not Roseville’s student section erupting at the end of the game in celebration of a victory, but the few Yuba fans instead.
A last second buzzer beater from a strong Yuba comeback effort sent Yuba’s fans ballistic, as players, students, fans and coaches alike all ran all over their half of the gym in celebration.
In a tentious moment, Yuba players, parents and even a coach got up close and personal with the stunned Tiger Cage, taunting and teasing and yelling in the faces of fans, and it seemed as if a confrontation was about to take place.
Some students in the Tiger Cage felt threatened, and had it escalated, I wouldn’t have been surprised if something unfortunately drastic happened between a Yuba City person and a student. Luckily, no violence occurred. However, Roseville students took on the attitude of the victim, saying the confrontation and tension forced upon Roseville by the Yuba City fans was “unnecessary” and that they should “have some class.”
While I agree that Yuba City should have some class in not getting in the faces of already distraught Roseville fans and players, it really was Roseville who instigated the taunts. If the Tiger Cage can’t take the heat, they should stay out of the kitchen.
Even so, I wouldn’t change a thing. As long as the taunts and calls don’t become too extreme and violence is not involved, the Tiger Cage can only add, not subtract. They are an essential part of what makes Roseville sports enjoyable, and a lively and passionate, sometimes slightly provocative crowd makes for a more entertaining game, hands down. After all, who ever heard of a crowd of docile, fanatical fans?