Fandemonium — it’s kind of like pandemonium, except it’s a well-deserved description of the hyped-up fans we have all seen at an intense athletic event.
Anyone who has experienced an exciting game with a vocal crowd knows that fans can get out of hand quickly.
Spectators who attend athletic events want to enjoy the game and experience the spirit of competition, but sometimes fans can take the game too seriously.
In a Dixie State University basketball game Feb. 11 against Brigham Young University-Hawaii, many students rushed the court after the final buzzer, creating a stampede of bodies to the center of the court to celebrate. This can become a potentially dangerous problem. You see, it’s kind of like “The Lion King” when those wildebeests come running down the canyon and trample Mufasa and almost kill Simba.
“Fans storming the floor following a big win is a catch-22,” Athletic Director Jason Boothe said. “On one hand, we want the students to be excited and feel attached enough to the team and excited about a big win to run on to the floor. On the other hand, there are some serious safety concerns.”
By rushing the court, storming students engulf the players and officials, and they can be caught off guard by the swarming bodies. Fans may also trip in the mayhem and be stepped on by the rage of fans.
“Our first responsibility in that kind of incident is to get the referees off of the court,” said Don Reid, head of campus security. “The athletic department is really the one that is over that. If they want to keep the crowd off the court, they (could) announce to stay off the court and then anyone who crosses the line would be charged with trespassing.”
However, chaotic behavior by fans is not only experienced after the games. Words of hostility shouted by opposing fans often times cross the lines of the court and attack the personal lives of the individuals playing. Oftentimes, fans resort to taunting the opposing team’s players with personal remarks about race, religion and use sexual slurs.
DSU men’s basketball player Curtis Papenfuss, a senior Spanish major from Happy Valley, Ore., remembers a time at Seattle Pacific University when the opposing crowd was constantly making insulting remarks about his faith in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“It was pretty much the whole game,” Papenfuss said. “It was definitely hurtful, and it was a bit distracting, but we just let it roll off our backs. It kind of struck a nerve, and I think it got us going, too. At the time they were ranked pretty high, so it felt good to walk out after we won and look back at their student section in silence.”
Papenfuss also said this kind of behavior is common when the Storm hit the road no matter where the team travels.
“Just about every single venue we go to that has a student section,” Papenfuss said. “They scream ‘Go back to Utah!’ But some go way further than that.”
Some students agree fans can go too far, but in the end, it’s up to the athlete with how they respond.
“I do think fans should be held more accountable; that’s for sure,” said Cade Neumann, a sophomore secondary education major from St. George. “Regardless, as an athlete you have to know that people will say crazy things to you because there are some crazy fans out there, and it’s your responsibility as an athlete to not react.”