New Student Section Leaves Little to Cheer About

The+student+section+cheers+during+the+third+quarter+of+the+boys+basketball+game+on+December+7%2C+2021.+This+was+the+first+game+that+the+student+section+was+moved+to+behind+the+end+zone.

Jaxon Kramer

The student section cheers during the third quarter of the boys basketball game on December 7, 2021. This was the first game that the student section was moved to behind the end zone.

As the first basketball game of the season approached, rumors circulated around the school that the student section was moved, causing an uproar of controversy between student section members, cheerleaders, Vikettes, and more. 

On December 7, 2021, that rumor was confirmed as students who showed up to support their team were moved from the southeast bleachers to the south side bleachers behind the end zone. 

Seaman High School Athletic Director, Steve Bushnell, wanted to implement this change last year, but due to spectators not being allowed at most of the basketball games due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this change was pushed back. 

“I think the biggest reason was to create more seating on the court for our general admission, our public. Our band and then our student section took up two of our ten sections in the gym, so we heard some of our spectators and community members,” Bushnell stated.

This change was brought on by a number of concerns from spectators and community members, who had trouble seeing over the student section and saw the amount of space the section took up. 

Before proposing this idea, Bushnell talked to the seniors in the Class of 2021, since this change was originally supposed to affect them. Most of them seemed open to the idea of moving so, as basketball season started up for the 2021-2022 season, this change took place. 

“Initially after our first couple home games I heard a few students say they didn’t care for it [the new student section placement] as much on the end zone, that they liked the area there on the east side of the court and thought they could get more people there,” Bushnell said.

Despite popular belief, Bushnell pointed out that there are fewer seats in the old student section than there is in the new section. 

Although it may initially seem that there are more seats in the end zone, the Clipper staff went and counted the number of seats and rows that each section provided. The new section has a total number of 18 rows with 156 seats, while the old student section has 14 rows but 196 seats.

Many students saw both pros and cons to the move, but most of their opinions tend to point out more of the negative than the positive. 

Senior and active student section participant Mason McConnaughey said, “There are advantages and disadvantages. It is hard to see and also very tight with space. Advantages include distracting free throws and heckling players. Disadvantages include tight space, it appears very small, and it’s hard to see full court.”

Fellow senior Kynlea Heydenreich, who has been present in the student section in both basketball and football season, participating in game themes and chanting cheers with the cheerleaders, feels like the student section should be moved back.

Heydenreich states, “Although we can distract our opponents from free throws, I don’t like it as much because there is less room and we aren’t facing the dancers during halftime. The dance team can’t move as much, cheer can’t move as much, you have to watch halftime from the side, and you can only leave the section during timeouts or halftime.”

Though there seem to be some advantages to this new change, the disadvantages are especially apparent with Vikette and cheerleader members, who have had their space on the south side bleachers imposed upon. Senior varsity cheerleader, Madison Minger, feels strongly about the new infringement on the court. 

Minger stated, “Moving the student section created many difficulties for not only the cheerleaders, but students, and parents. With the student section being behind the cheerleaders it is difficult to get them engaged within the cheers. However, we cannot turn around as our backs would face the entire court. Our students are the only people who yell out cheers back so when we did it to the parents we had no response. Not only is the engagement within the students changed, but with them standing behind us they are constantly going to the bathroom and getting off the bleachers, which then they walk through us cheerleaders.”

Though the original intent of the change was to allow spectators and community members more room and the ability to watch the game, all this new implementation has brought has been a lack of spirit from the student section, a crowded mess that involves students dodging cheerleaders or Vikettes to get out of the stands, and an increased ability to throw off opponents shooting free throws (which is probably something that shouldn’t be considered an advantage when looking for the vantage point of sportsmanship).

As a four-year member of the SHS cheerleading team, this new change has been nothing but constant struggle. 

The cheerleaders usually stand on both sides of the basket and turn to the east side to call cheers towards the student section, but now, to involve the student section, they would have to turn around towards the south side bleachers, showcasing their backsides to the rest of the gym. 

Since the option of turning towards the newly moved student section wouldn’t work, they’ve chosen to turn towards their respective sides of the court and call cheers towards the parents in the stands. The parents usually never respond to the cheers and with the cheerleaders not being able to take the initiative to involve the student section, they usually lose their support for the rest of the game. 

Along with that, the crowd is constantly yelling or talking, no matter if it’s a free throw, quarter, or three-pointer, which makes it difficult to communicate what dances, cheers, and chants to call, as well as announcing when stunts go up or down. 

The student section also crowds the cheerleaders, giving them no room to spread out in the already tight area they’re given. When referees come around and cheerleaders have to step back, they can find themselves accidentally hitting another cheerleader or student section member. 

This chance of getting hit by a cheerleader also increases with the student section leaving and coming back to the bleachers, whether it be to go to the bathroom, get food, or leave. Crowd members will walk through cheerleaders formations paying no mind to the consequences of their actions. 

The Vikettes were also affected by the change, feeling the same crowdedness when performing on the sidelines, with the biggest disappointment of this new policy being that students can’t watch their halftime performance. 

The Vikettes face the east side where the student section used to be and because it’s hard to get out of the stands, many supporters of the Vikettes are forced to watch the performance from the sides, leaving both the dance team and the crowd upset.

Another big factor is the comfort of the cheerleaders and Vikettes. Having the student section behind them makes some members feel uncomfortable, since sometimes it feels like the student section is just looking at their butts the whole time. 

A better change would be to put the band behind the cheerleaders, and move the student section to where the band used to be on the southeast side of the bleachers. The band only plays during timeouts, quarters, and halftime, which means they won’t be interfering with the communication between cheerleaders. 

Also, the band members don’t travel as much as the student section members do, instead sticking by their instruments in the bleachers having quieter conversations than the student section. This would get rid of the hitting and space issue that has appeared with this new policy. 

Though this initial change was to allow more spectators the ability to spread out and see the game, it has only caused a mess for the student section, cheerleaders, and Vikettes. It only makes sense to return the student section back to the original sport and therefore, returning the cheer and spirit that used to radiate from the crowd.

 

Do you like the new student section or the old student section more?

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