Fans are a part of the team

Zach Chytil, Sports Editor

Fans keep sports alive. Without them cheering on the sidelines, most athletes wouldn’t even bother to take the field. But are the fans rooting for the whole team or just their favorite player? How big a part do the fans play?

North offers many options for sports, including football, basketball, volleyball, baseball, tennis, cross country, track, soccer, swimming, golf, marching band, and cheer/dance. Cross country, swimming, golf, and tennis are more individual sports than the rest but are still part of a North team.

In a team sport the individual plays an important role, but they don’t control the entire game; they’re just a piece in the grand plan. Basketball and volleyball are the quintessential trust and teamwork-building sports. Plays can fall apart in a heartbeat with one misstep or one defensive blunder. Yet the fans praise individuals like LeBron James and Doug McDermott when they score, and would struggle to name volleyball players past Kerri Walsh and Misty Treanor.

At Omaha North High, Calvin Strong, senior, has been and is praised constantly by the fans. This doesn’t mean he is the only great player on the team, however. Coach Martin rewards any player for exceptional games, but always gives constructive criticism by watching film with them.

These “star players” are singled out and praised while the rest of the team is neglected. Think of all the underappreciated positions in sports: the rebounding center in basketball, the defenders in soccer, and the fullback in football. But it’s not the players’ fault; it’s the fans’ fault. Fans decide who the “best” is. Fans decide who is booed and who is immortalized.

This recognition can, and has, led to sever cases of confidence. The players risk that confidence turning into cockiness. Marquise Lewis exudes confidence, but he has the stats to back it up. “Marquise is a hard-working player and is in great shape. He can be very confident, but I try to help him channel that into the game,” Coach Martin explained.

In the stands themselves, there are different kinds of fans. There are those who want to watch the game, those who want to talk to people, and those who need an excuse to get out of the house. But they all show up and cheer for the team no matter the sport. They all boo the referees who penalize their team, even when they are right. They always say, “We won!” or “We suck.” They are connected to the experience itself.

The experience doesn’t change in college or professional sports, but it does intensify. The chants are in unison and don’t trail off when they should have ended. These fans embrace superstitions, like holding a shoe up at a Husker kickoff, or participating in white out games in the NBA. There are also less sanitary traditions for hardcore fans, like not changing or washing the shirt they wear during playoffs.

Professional sports have a different vibe than college or high school. It’s about the money and the players are the products. They are traded and dropped like a piece of meat. But the fans are just as attached and just as supportive, but at a cost. Players aren’t loyal to the teams but to the paycheck. They rarely have a career with one team and therefore one fan base. Instead, professional players have fans that follow them around (Brett Favre, LeBron James, etc.).

There are always fans at the games, no matter the reason. They show support and share in defeat. The fans love the players and the team, almost as if they were a part of it. The fans make sports possible.