Spirited vs. Spoilers: Tiger Nation faces questions of sportsmanship for recent behaviors

By: Nolan Nickerson

At Cedar Falls on any given Friday the atmosphere in the gym is electric, as the ball is tipped up into the air, a large roar echoes across the crowd as the student’s at Cedar Falls cheer on their team, but as schools debate a national trend for taming taunting at sports events, the dynamics of that spirited fan excitement have led to broader discussion of what is acceptable in Cedar Falls.

In December an email was sent out by the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) that strictly forbid the following cheers as they were considered hurtful to the opponents: fundamentals, sieve, we can’t hear you, air ball, you can’t do that and scoreboard. Social media disagreed when the emails were leaked through a local Wisconsin paper leaving stars of the game in awe like former Duke guard and current ESPN analyst Jay Bilas who tweeted his opinion on the rule changes with a photo of nuns and a caption reading, “Under the new rules, a crowd behaving in an acceptable fashion at a Wisconsin high school basketball game.”

Recently, the cheering at Cedar Falls High School has became a bigger part of the game as more and more students go to support the teams. Over the recent months, during the men’s basketball games in particular, the student section and Athletic Director Gary Koenen have been at odds over cheers from the students as a whole and individually. Koenen has banned a couple of senior students from attending basketball games due to behavior and has kicked out one other in the last two minutes of a game due to unacceptable cheering.

“I find cheers acceptable that promote your team. They cross the line when they are disrespectful and derogatory to the other team, stuff like we’re winners your losers, and when someone calls out an individual on the other team.”

Koenen recalled one chant he heard during the Iowa City West game. “During the game I heard cheers about an opponent’s GPA, and cheers like that is unacceptable.”

Many students have shared their thoughts on the district’s strict rules such as senior Drew Nida, who said,  “There were some times earlier in the season that the student section believed they hadn’t crossed the line, and Mr.Koenen intervened much like the WIAA; however, I believe Mr. Koenen sometimes gives us enough space to get into the game and stay respectful at the same time.”

Koenen has heard the comparisons and has his own thoughts on the WIAA. “I think the intentions of the WIAA were good, but they went overboard on all the rules. I think I’m more lenient than the WIAA, but we both want a safe environment, so I understand where they are coming from.”

Even more recently the Waverly-Shell Rock community took to Facebook calling out the Cedar Falls student section, calling them tasteless for their behavior. Some of the parents at Waverly were upset by the CFHS students’ decision to dress like country folk poking fun at Waverly’s rural location. Students at Cedar Falls responded to the posts on Twitter, calling out Waverly players for using racial slurs towards black players on Cedar Falls and the Waverly student section for bringing pill bottles to mock a Cedar Falls player.

“I learned that often times parents overreact or jump to conclusions about what teenagers say. It is really sad that they believed we were tacky when their own student section was referencing drugs and racist slurs to our own players. I would not change anything or apologize for our behavior because it was not out of line,” Nida said.

Regarding the event at Waverly, Koenen said, “I can’t control other schools behavior, but I hope our students represent our school with the most class and style. It’s important that our schools should represent the sides of our good character.”

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