Ok, we’ve all heard the spiel: President Bob Bruininks wants to bring Gophers football back to campus. Apparently, college pigskin should be a highlight of our University experience.
But first thing’s first. Are the fans ready? After going to the seasons’ first two games , I’m not so sure. Not to mince words, but our fans suck. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not for want of passion; they’re just completely out of practice – which makes sense, because it’s been 40 years since the team has been good.
We need to fix this now. Nothing would look worse than a new stadium with no atmosphere, and in our case ear-splitting silence. Forget about “if you build it, they will come,” it’s “if they do come, will they make asses of themselves on national television?”
And while the Metrodome is guilty of many things, it deserves none of the blame here: Vikings fans make the place hell-on-earth, and even Twins fans (whenever they show up) make the place uncomfortable during the playoffs. What’s our excuse?
So let’s go on a quick crash course on what it takes to strike fear in the hearts that venture into the valley of the Gophers:
(1) Most important: YELL!
It’s far too quiet. We need more noise. This is not the time for “Minnesota nice.” Fans should not be able to hear the opposing team call its audible. False start, illegal formation and offside penalties often come from the effects of a loud, hostile crowd, so do your part to be the 12th player.
On offense, we need more motivational chanting. The Rouser is great (albeit sloppy when it gets to the spell out), but it is not enough?? there should be more in-game cheers. A busy crowd is an energized crowd. Goldy Gopher should do more to rally the crowd. While I love watching the rodent pound out 60-odd push-ups, we need more energy spent on enlivening the entire audience.
(2) Know when to leave early!
Many Gophers fans are confused when it comes to when they should stay and when they should leave a game. The right timing: When the Gophers are getting pounded 65-7 and being seen on national TV is too embarrassing. The wrong timing: When the Gophers are in the midst of delivering a knockout, second-half blow to their unlucky opponents.
Do not leave at halftime. Try to stay well into the fourth quarter. Don’t act like fair-weather fans; show that you give a damn. The parties will be there when the game ends, and as anyone who saw the Michigan game last year will tell you – it ain’t over ’til it’s over, baby! Who cares if you’re out late?
(3) Know when to criticize a bad call by the referee.
If a referee calls a phantom hold that nullifies a touchdown run, you better start sharing your concern. The standard chant is the slang term for male bovine excrement. If done right, the echoing chant will serenade the referees, the field and the viewers watching at home. Even in the age of Big Ten instant reply, mistakes can be made and should be punished with extreme prejudice.
(4) Energize the geriatrics.
I’m happy to see the throngs of long-time Gophers fans who sit at the 50, but for heaven’s sake, they ‘gotta cheer. I don’t believe in ageism, and a lot of them remember first-hand the last Gophers national championship (1960), but they should carry their weight. If we can’t get them to cheer, maybe we can supply them with thunder sticks, and they can bang ’em together like a chorus of trained seals. Another solution is electrifying their chairs, but I think danger of spilled beer might make that not the best idea.
So there you have it. If the team keeps rolling and the fans start acting the part, I’ll be back with an article on advanced football fan tactics, including knowing when to “boo” your own team, proper etiquette for harassing opposing fans and how to take down goalposts with panache.
Bobak Ha’eri welcomes comments at [email protected]