It is interesting that the NFL, a multi-billion dollar industry, is not afraid of tackling a problem that it has faced, yet we always seem to look away when it comes to the behavior of our fans at sporting events.
I have recently spoken to a few friends who refuse to attend Shaker hockey games because the environment at these games is far from family friendly. These friends have young ones who are of pre-school to early elementary school age, love hockey, but will never buy a ticket to a game. How does it reflect on our school when our neighbors feel intimidated by the fan behavior and refuse to attend events?
What does it say about our school when chants of “white trash” and “bull****” are common? Where is the pride we have in our teams or even ourselves? We celebrate a community of diversity and tolerance yet deliver chants (not cheers) that are degrading and obscene at best.
So where do we start? Are students coming to events not in control of their faculties? Should this issue be taken up as a first step? We cannot solve a problem unless we confront it first. In light of recent behavior at the homecoming dance, one incident is one too many.
I have always taken pride in the hockey played at our school. We are fortunate to have one of the premier coaches in the state, a very well-respected and soft-spoken man. It must be insulting to him and his team that the behavior in the stands often overshadows the team’s performance on the ice.
So let’s start here. Post a sign on the doors at Thornton Park listing the expectations of anyone buying a ticket to the game. Much like the NFL fan code, abusive language and unruly behavior will not be tolerated. If identified, the offending party will be escorted from the event and will not receive a refund for their ticket purchase. Multiple offenders may be escorted out at a given time.
This could be a very special season on the ice. Our Raiders showed last year that they can play with some of the best teams in the area. Let’s build an environment of raucous spirit, energy and pride. Let’s make it difficult for opposing teams to play their best game because it is “our house,” our home ice. Keep the offensive language at home, leave the derogatory chants in the past, and cheer on the Raiders in a season that promises to be very special.
Our mission statement for the Shaker Schools is clear: to nurture, educate, and graduate students who are true citizens of the world. Does this apply only in the classroom? Or does it extend to every opportunity we have as we come together as a school community? Let us positively move forward with great energy, pride and a sense of what is right and proper. Go, Raiders!
A version of this article appeared in print on 21 November 2011, on page 6 of The Shakerite.