We fans are not as good as the people on the field, court, rink or track. They simply are better athletes than us. That is why we are fans. I understand that sometimes that is hard to accept, but if the case were otherwise, we would not be fans — we would be players. With that in mind, we need to now understand our part, as fans, in the game.
The art of heckling is a time-honored tradition that goes hand in hand with sports. From a young age, we learn different tactics to get our voice heard from the stands. To make the players on the field think about your voice the next time something big happens—this is the epitome of “getting in the players’ head.”
You want them to prove you wrong. You want them to hear your voice and tell you to shut up. You want them to think about the words you are saying so much that they stop focusing on the game. The moment they acknowledge your voice is the moment they make their first mistake.
But as we all know, this is sometimes not feasible when facing a well-coached or generally talented team. At which point, all of your gibberish toward the game is aimed at getting laughs from your friends or the rest of the fans around you.
However, the best games are when those two aspects of shit-talking, the time with your friends and creativity, combine into one magical experience of feeling like you had a hand in the game’s results.
A prime example of this happened at UC Irvine men’s soccer’s NCAA second-round match against Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
As the game kicked off, my section in the stands decided to establish itself as the loud student section.
Upon suggestion from the Oracle, our section started the night by yelling, “SUCKS!” after each of the opposing players’ names were announced at the start of the game. This is not something special or new, but should be implemented at each game as a thing of tradition.
However, there was one player on the field that night who wished he had stayed home: Cal Poly keeper, whom we referred to as Franco (Note: His actual name is Eric Franco).
At around 10 minutes into the second half, our section got word of his name and started unleashing on that guy. We started with the easy ones: “Franco you suck!,” “Franco, you are ugly” and “Don’t miss it, Franco.” You know, the usual.
And then it happened. One of us started harping on Franco’s size and how short he was. We all jumped on the band-wagon and went for every short joke possible. This, again, was mainly for our own amusement. That is until we all saw him get irritated.
Like an idiot, Franco started spitting in our direction and doing some pointless hip-flexor stretches in obvious response to our taunts.
So, one of us promptly yelled, “Oh yeah, Franco, stretch out those little legs.”
And that was the start of Franco’s bad night. His confidence was shot. He started pacing awkwardly around his box when the ball was at the other end and yelling random things that he wasn’t yelling before. With every small joke, we were getting further in his head.
It was beautiful.
Every time the ball was on the other end or whenever he touched it, he was hearing from one of us.
“Your gloves are getting slippery, Franco!” (It was raining) “Can you even touch the crossbar?” or “Big West Goalie of the Year? I want a recount you jackass.”
We were all getting into it. The Oracle was throwing out lines like, “Respect the game and the game will respect you.” I kept calling him a gnome and once Irving Garcia scored his second goal, we all started chanted his name in unison. Even the little kids next to us were getting into it, chanting “Franco sucks” right along with us.
And after Franco gave up three goals and his team went home crying, as a section, we felt like we had a part in it.
Of course, it was our guys that put the ball in the net and by no means am I taking anything away from them. But as fans, we would like to think that we played our small part. I know for a fact Franco thought about us on the bus ride back to Cal Poly. Because of that, our night was that much better and I realized that if students at the games always did this, Irvine would dominate.
The Completely Insane Anteaters does its part with some good lines, but if everyone started putting their two cents in, games would be hilarious.
Sometimes it is hard to get it going, but all you have to do is sit in front or with a group of students and you will realize everyone wants to do it too. It’s sports, people. Let’s start treating it that way.
Special thanks to our section: Oracle, Jeff, Alex, Shawna, Matt, Brendon, Hannah, Andrew, John, Paul and the surf-team dude in the green poncho.
Look out for the Hypothesis and Oracle collaboration on how and when to taunt at UCI games coming next quarter.
Don’t believe the hype, believe the Hypothesis.