Why You Should Always Show Up To Support Your Team


Tim Cardew

Ipswich Tiger Den

Brian Milano and Toby Adams

Sports fans are famously known for being enthusiastic and rambunctious. Whether they are trying to sway the momentum of the game through coordinated chants and cheers, or are simply showing passion about the sport, the spectators can get quite rowdy at times. The question is, does this affect the game? To get a concise answer, we not only interviewed members of our own athletics and athletic fans, but researched the impact of fan participation in the professional sports world as well.

One of the more recent occurrences we looked at gave us a great comparison to the impact fans may have on professional sports games is the NBA bubble. The NBA bubble was the creative and much needed response to the Covid-19 pandemic, which shut down the league before that year’s finals had taken place. The twenty-two teams with the best records in the NBA were invited to Disney World in Orlando Florida, which also had been forced to shut down due to the pandemic. There, the teams were isolated in their own basketball “bubble,” secluded from even fans. This instance provides a perfect comparison of how fans may or may not affect the games. 

One of the first differences noticed in the bubble was the difference in three pointers made each game. Not only did eighteen out of the twenty-two teams in the bubble consistently score more three pointers per game than average, but players who had low career three point percentages began making far more open threes than usual. The simple way to explain this is that the players didn’t feel as much pressure to make the shots without the disruptive taunting and feeling of the fans’ disappointment. However, there is actually a far more complicated resolution. The two key changes that led to this three point uptick were the change in pace of the game and the worsening of defense. 

The pace of the game can be determined by how many possessions each team gets per game, and it was clear that for some reason seventeen out of twenty-two teams in the bubble saw a significant increase in pace. Much of this can likely be attributed to the lack of fans. Many NBA players have claimed that they feed off of the energy from their fans, so when they don’t have that extra energy source, their defense takes a hit. This allows for not only more shots per game, but easier, less contested ones. 

Although it’s impossible to say for sure that the lack of fans created this change of pace and poor defense, it is clear that both were affected greatly in the bubble. Therefore, it is safe to say that some of this change can be attributed to the absence of fans in the stands.

On a smaller scale, we wanted to see how or if our own fans might have an effect on the games. Ipswich’s Tiger Den is one of the most supportive student sections across the league. Through dressing to match a theme or starting the wave, the students of the Tiger Den never fail to support their peers. One of its most dedicated members, Drew Lane, is a strong believer that a good student section has the ability to “sway the momentum from one team to another.” This is why he believes that having a large supportive group of students at every game is very important. Whether it’s the regular season or the playoffs, the energy the Den brings provides an “added bonus to the intense moments of the game, especially during senior night, because it gives you a little extra push”, according to senior football captain Henry Wright. He says he typically likes to “zone out the opposing student sections,” but after he scores an impressive rushing touchdown, he likes to “soak it all in” and listen to the loud cheers from the stands.

Similarly, the basketball coach, Alan Laroche zones out the crowd in order to stay focused on his team and the adjustments he needs to make. Though he does agree, “A good student section is like a 6th man, as long as it is done in the right way.” Meaning, the number of fans present and how they participate. He believes “10 fans that understand how to be supportive is better than 100 fans that don’t say a word.” Although a small town, Ipswich’s Tiger Den makes a big impact on the performance and outcome of the games it’s a part of. 

The enthusiasm and character that fans bring to the game are crucial not only for the players benefit but for the result of the game. According to fans, players, and coaches at Ipswich High School, the participation of fans at interscholastic sports events has an incredible amount of power that grants them the ability to sway the game. When the spectators at the game participate correctly, the energy and atmosphere of the sport can greatly be influenced. Although in the NBA there are many other factors that can play into the momentum of a team and how well they perform each night, fans clearly play a role. When the fans were taken out of the equation, the players consistently played better, and the entire pace of the game was affected. This could be the result of not having a rowdy atmosphere to distract or encourage players while they play. It’s safe to say based on our interviews and statistical evidence from the NBA bubble, that fan interaction and participation play a big role in the outcome of the game, so if you are rooting for a specific team to win, go cheer them on.