How Much Taunting Can A Tiger Do


Bobby Grady and Tyler Roberts

Imagine you’re sitting in the tiger den watching a close game between the Tigers and their rivals, Hamilton-Wenham Generals. The General’s player just shot to win the game and as a fan of Ipswich, of course, you want him to miss. So what do you do? You yell something to throw him off of his game. But what you yelled actually got you kicked out of the game. What if the words you yelled didn’t cross any lines? But what if it did. Is being removed from a game because of “taunting” justifiable? Is being banished all together justifiable? These questions have baffled both students and faculty and their opinions tend to contradict.

Let’s start with the MIAA taunting rules. The MIAA has stated that taunting is “any actions or comments by coaches, players, or spectators which are intended to bait, anger, embarrass, ridicule or demean others, whether or not the deeds or words are vulgar or racist. Included is conduct that berates, needles, intimidates or threatens based on race, gender, ethnic origin or background, and conduct that attacks religious beliefs, size, economic status, speech, family, special needs or personal matters.” This is essentially saying that nothing offensive can be directed toward anybody at an MIAA sanctioned event. Overall it doesn’t seem to be too complicated. So why is there so much controversy surrounding these rules?

The answer is actually relatively simple. Taunting is very common. If you were to go to any professional sports game, people are taunting or chirping players and referees like it’s their job. Furthermore, the people that are taunting at professional games are having an absolute blast doing it. Another important thing to note is that the taunting going on at professional sports games doesn’t really work. Sometimes it does but for the most part, professional athletes block out crazy fans pretty easily. Unfortunately, high school athletes don’t operate like that. It is pretty easy for a 16-year-old to be rattled by a bunch of screaming kids sitting a couple of feet from the court. Even though high school athletes are easier to distract or annoy than professional athletes, this doesn’t stop spectators from chirping.

Local senior and Ipswich sports enthusiast, Lucas Kubaska, is among those who enjoy watching their peers compete against other schools. The sport doesn’t really matter seeing as how he helped create a consistent Tiger Den appearance at volleyball games this fall. He also attends many basketball games too. He can always be found in the tiger den at these games. If you have ever been to an Ipswich game with a lot of students present, there has probably been some taunting involved. Lucas is no exception to this. He argues that without taunting or “chirping” the games can become “very dull.” He also exclaimed that when chirping is allowed, “attendance of the fans increases,” and he describes the games as “much more energetic.” The last thing he mentioned was that the “MIAA fan rules state that you are not allowed to distract participants in the game.” This is true but he also “feel(s) as if home-court advantage is no longer relevant when heckling is not allowed during the game.”

Ipswich Athletic Director Mr. Thomas Gallagher has a different opinion on the taunting rules. He believes that the taunting rules are “accurate and fair.” But if there’s something Mr. Gallagher and Lucas do agree on it’s that the rules are not very popular amongst students. When it comes to actually enforcing the rules Mr. Gallagher stated that it happens a small number of times but it does happen. When he does have to enforce the rules he has a game plan that he follows. The first part is he or any other faculty will respectfully ask the student to leave the game. The next part is a follow up the next school day. This consists of a meeting between the student, himself and Mr. C. Sometimes Mr. Mitchell will be there too. Another statement Mr. Gallagher made was that in the last five years, sportsmanship has gotten worse in Ipswich. He also mentioned that Ipswich was once considered to have the best fan sportsmanship in the state.

So this brings us back to the original question, is being removed from a game for taunting justifiable? Someone in Mr. Gallagher’s position would say yes. They would argue that it is unnecessary and plain rude. Someone in Lucas’ position would argue that it is part of the game and it is the fan’s way of helping their team win. This question probably won’t be solved any time soon so the debate will continue for now.