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The finer points of cheering

I was pretty excited for Saturday night's men's basketball game against Yale. Not because of Princeton's national ranking. Not because I was decked out in my new orange T-shirt. Not even because I hate Yale.

No, I was excited because I'm a basketball fan – more specifically, I'm a Princeton basketball fan. So Saturday I did what any self-respecting college basketball fan, especially one in the student section, should – along with many other fans around me, I stood. Stood in excitement. Stood to show my support.


Most of the students around me also stood, even after the game had started. Hey, we were cheering for our team, a team that was on its way to its 20th win in 21 tries. A couple of minutes into the game, however, ushers came by and told us to sit down.

Think about that for a second: They told us to sit down.

Getting an excited crowd at Jadwin is hard enough. Getting loud in that cavern is next to impossible, but the student section had just been injected with a needed dose of spirit in the form of those orange T-shirts. Telling students to sit is equivalent to putting duct tape over students' mouths and saying, "You can't have any spirit. This is Princeton, where you must not have fun."

You can try to sell me the argument that if the student section stands, people sitting directly behind cannot see the court, but I'm not buying it. If you want to sit down and watch Princeton games, I think Comcast broadcasts them – get thee to a TV set while someone who wants to get fired up takes your ticket.

After all, what is now the student section is actually half of what it should be. The student section should contain all of the courtside bleachers on the north side of the court, not just half of those seats and the bleachers behind one hoop. Don't even get me started on the fact that some students are being shipped to the upper recesses of Jadwin.

Are the people who decide where to seat students even working for Princeton, or have agents covertly working for other Ivy League schools infiltrated the Jadwin ticket office? Do they purposely want to decrease crowd noise and excitement?


Students deserve the entire north courtside stands. The decision to cut the student section in half was prompted by the basketball coaching staff, who disliked showing partly empty courtside seats on game films to recruits.

Shame on all of you students who, basing support on national exposure, failed to attend last year, forcing this situation. Now do something about it – show up en masse for every game. Maybe we can take back what is rightfully ours.

This is college basketball, not an art museum, and students get loud. They might even stand. This sort of behavior should be encouraged, not frowned upon.

So in the spirit of a true college basketball fan, here are some tips on how to cheer at tonight's clash against Penn. DO: get loud, even when Princeton opens up a big lead. Just because ESPN is not broadcasting the game is no reason not to cheer throughout the game. DON'T: sit down, even if told to by ushers or safeguards. DO: lose your voice. If you are able to talk in precept tomorrow, you haven't done your job – your duty – as a fan. DON'T: go to this game if you only sort of care. Let someone who is prepared to get loud and excited go in your place. DO: wear orange T-shirts. Drown in the sea of orange. BY ALL MEANS, DON'T: wear anything red or blue. DO: scream when any Penn player is attempting a free throw. If you are sitting behind that hoop, stand up and wave your arms like a psychotic aerobics instructor doing jumping jacks. DON'T: heckle when Princeton players are taking free throws, even if you have a really good gibe for a Penn player. DO: heckle. Fans at the Palestra will be merciless in two weeks when the Tigers visit Philly, so why not seize the opportunity to remind the Quakers that we're going to the tournament in March while they sit at home and watch on CBS? DON'T: be excessively vulgar in your taunting: an ejected fan is one less person who can rub defeat in Penn's collective faces. DO: mercilessly boo Penn's cheerleaders. They're trying to "lead cheers," for Penn, right? Well, in the case of Princeton fans, cheering for Penn means booing them. DON'T: show up at 7:30 expecting to get a seat in Jadwin. You'll get a seat – it will most likely be in your room next to your radio.

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I know that everyone has reading to do and papers to write – I'm a student, too. But for one night, forget all that stuff and go to the game.

Leave your homework behind and be a fan. It's a Princeton-Penn basketball game.

Bring it on.