Thursday, March 13, 2008

Art of Heckling is lost

By Steven Lienert

The Phanatic Magazine

When my Uncle Bob started taking me down to Veterans Stadium as a kid, he knew I was going to be a huge project.

But he took me under his wing and began teaching me how to be a sports fan anyway.

He taught me that there are rules to being a fan – things like: Don’t kick the seat in front of you, always stand up to let people by, pass the beer down the row without taking a sip, and so on.

One of the big rules was – and still is – no cursing.

Which brings me to my problem: What was up with all of the foul language at the Pennridge-Central Bucks South Ice Hockey championship series last week?

I mean, this wasn’t just foul language – this was language that would make Navy sailors blush. At one point in Game 3, there was loud mention of unpleasant bodily functions. F-bombs were being used as verbs, adjectives and nouns – all at the same time.

Any and all parts of the human anatomy were fair game. Anything that had three syllables and ended with a swear morphed into a chant.

According to staff working at Face-Off Circle during Game 3, six people were ejected from the stands and police had to be called in case a riot broke out in the parking lot.

In all, it was an ugly scene.

Before almost every high-school basketball game I’ve recently attended, an announcer reads a fans code of conduct policy that all entrants are expected to adhere to.

Perhaps the problem is that ice hockey isn’t considered a varsity school-sanctioned sport and therefore there is little that can be done to punish the behavior of the fans.

Obviously, though, something needs to be done before things get out of control.

What happened to good ol’ fashioned heckling?

For instance, a few Central Bucks South fans were carrying baby rattles and noise makers. The material to work with there is endless.

(By the way, taking “Central Bucks” and filling in another word that starts with the letter ‘S’ is not a heckle. It’s unintelligent.)

Also, do some research. If you want to heckle a goalie, look up the last time he gave up five goals and remind him of that. Perhaps get on a goal scorer by asking him when was the last time he got blanked. Coaches and teams haven’t done well at one time or another. The internet has vast amounts of information at your disposal.

So why was it necessary to yell an obscenity when, with just a little bit of wit, someone could have come up with something everyone could enjoy?

If you can’t say it in front of your mother or grandmother, it shouldn’t be said at a sporting event.

When I asked some parents what they thought about the evening’s display, most wouldn’t comment on the record. Personally, I think that speaks volumes on how embarrassing it was, especially last Friday night.

However, Perkasie’s Tina Berrios, who was wearing her son’s Pennridge jersey, wasn’t afraid to give her opinion.

“That’s uncalled for,” Berrios said. “It makes both schools look bad. It’s nice to see the constable here.”

That also spoke volumes.

After all, it’s pretty sad when fans are happy to see the police arrive so they can feel safe while watching high school kids play a game.

Steve Lienert is a sportswriter for the Montgomery Media Group. You can reach him at

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