The fall sports season saw the debut of Raider Nation, a group of students who sell Raider-wear and encourage their peers to attend sporting events, especially soccer games. While Raider Nation is credited with raising excitement and support for the athletic program, the intensity and aggression of its cheers has led to calls for school officials to censor the fans.
by Dan McMillan
Raider Nation should not be censored. This group of students enhances the athletic experience for both teams. While its high-spirited support for all things Raider annoys referees and parents from
opposing teams, it garners respect from Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School athletes and athletic director.
Athletes on opposing teams respect our loyal fans. Even members of Westfield’s varsity soccer team relished the fanatical environment when the rival teams clashed in September. “I loved it when your fans booed me after I scored,” said Westfield junior and starter Jake Heroux.
Competing in front of classmates gives the players gratification that cannot be matched by an audience of loyal parents alone. “Plain and simple, having fans makes the game more exciting,” said senior hockey player Jonathan Tomasulo.
Raider Nation has great respect for its teams and is extremely passionate about cheering. “We love supporting the athletic teams, especially when we have such talented programs,” said junior Mike Rempter. Many players refer to fans as the “twelfth man” because they give the teams a figurative one-man advantage.
Raider soccer fans earned this title when two busloads of fans traveled to Kearny for an away game in September. Nearly two hundred Raider supporters cheered so passionately that they overshadowed Kearny’s fans.
In the chilly weather at Kean University in November, Raider Nation inspired both the boys and girls teams to Union County championships with its positive impact and energy.
NOT TO CHEER
by Trevor Skanes
Raider fans often negatively reflect what should be the positive excitement and intensity of a socc
er game. If players on the opposing team get injured or make mistakes on the field, they receive an earful of unnecessary and unsportsmanlike comments from fans representing our school.
Obnoxious chants are never appropriate and it should not be an adult’s responsibility to prevent them. “Depending on the game, teachers get paid to act as crowd control. If a teacher leaves the area, then there is a difference in student behavior,” said Athletic Director Ryan Miller. It is appalling to know that the faculty is given these responsibilities when, as young adults, students should know the difference between right and wrong.
There is a fine line between showing school spirit and being obnoxious. Unfortunately, fans recognize this line but choose to carry on with their disrespectful mantra.
Screaming negative comments at opposing players is always wrong, but rooting for the Raiders is the best thing to do. “It gives the team much more motivation,” said senior varsity soccer captain Billy Babis. Anyone who truly believes that our teams would rather hear negative comments directed at opposing players is seriously misguided.
Only good can come out of censoring the fans. But, what we really need is mature students who are willing to tell their fellow classmates to calm down. The opposing players are human beings who deserve respect. Sporting events can be just as fun without constantly reminding the crowd that the opposing team “sucks.”