Ohio State’s 2015-16 athletic season has been underway for a little over a month, and the season also marks the 10th year for Ohio State Sportsmanship Council’s “Be the Best Fans in the Land” initiative.
Echoing former OSU football coach Jim Tressel’s words after the 2002 national championship, president of the Sportsmanship Council Janel Hosbach is doing her best to improve and enhance fan behavior at all sporting events.
However, one student cheer is counteracting this initiative.
A few years ago, OSU students adopted a profane cheer during kickoffs at Ohio Stadium, yelling “rip his f—ing head off” following the O-H-I-O cheer. The athletic department is continuously dealing with complaints from visiting fans and alumni about the student chant.
“What really triggered athletics wanting this initiative was definitely the kickoff chant,” Hosbach said. “Because it is so audible … that definitely puts a bad impact on the university.”
The Sportsmanship Council is in close collaboration with Block “O” to try to reach out to students about upholding the reputation of OSU through excellent fan behavior at all sporting events.
“Part of being the best fans is displaying this great behavior at the games, to not be rude to the fans coming to the university,” Hosbach said.
This past summer, the Sportsmanship Council and Block “O” worked with athletic communications to create a video to guide the cheer into a nonaggressive form — but that tape has yet to appear at the ‘Shoe.
Block “O” football director Adam Watson said he sees many of the emails the athletic department receives and often attends meetings regarding the profane chant.
“The one I remember very vividly is a mother of a son, who was 7 years old, who said ‘Mom, what does (bleep) mean,'” Watson said.
Watson said changing the cheer is one of his top priorities as football director.
“It’s pretty high up on my list trying to promote better cheering,” Watson said. “I’m trying to do what I can to promote the change, but there’s some culture that goes into it as well.”
It may be difficult and it may take some time, but Watson said he believes the cheer is just a fad and will pass over with some strategic action on the part of Block “O” and the Sportsmanship Council.
Lucas Buckley, a first-year in operations management, said profanity should be expected at sporting events. However, that doesn’t mean students shouldn’t change their behavior.
“I feel like it comes along with the culture,” Buckley said. “But chanting it that loud is also different than hearing swearing here and there in the crowd, so I can understand people complaining.”
Joe Dimitrijevs, a first-year in exploration, said he believes it is the students’ responsibilities to maintain the university’s reputation by presenting OSU in a good light, and changing the cheer would not affect the gameday atmosphere.
“I don’t think taking (the cheer) away would change things that much, because it’s just another cheer,” Dimitrijevs said. “There are other ones.”
Hosbach said it is important for the council to find a balance between fans being passionate and having a good time at games while keeping everything clean and organized.
“We are here as ambassadors to the university,” Hosbach said. “We want people to have Ohio State in their minds as a great place to come and watch a sporting event … we want them to leave with positive memories.”