Fan Forum: Red Zone needs ‘superfans’

May 24, 2011, 12:05 a.m.

This wouldn’t be the first thing to pop into your head when you think about Stanford. Most people would scoff at this idea, especially since we couldn’t even fill up our tiny stadium during our nationally televised marquee game last season (vs. Arizona). But let’s take a step back for a second and look at our student section. Not to be self-praising, but we did a pretty good job—we filled up our section at every game except for the Washington State game (don’t forget Harbaugh’s anger at the fans, let’s not do this to Coach Shaw). In previous years, we had trouble selling out the student section. Last year, we all but solved this problem. However, going to the game is only part of the experience; we need fans to be loud.

Fan Forum: Red Zone needs 'superfans'
"Superfans" lead the Red Zone section in cheers during a Stanford football win. (SIMON WARBY/The Stanford Daily)

This should be the goal of the 2011 football season. And it is an urgent one. We are competing with schools that have student sections two or three times our size, so to match their noise level, each of us has to be two or three times as loud. This will always be a nagging problem that will probably never be fully addressed—but we can mitigate it.

Enter the superfans. They are the guys and gals that paint their bodies, ring their cowbells and/or are in the band. They help make football craziness mainstream on campus. All we need to do is spread their knowledge and passion to the rest of the student body. And this will be key to not just keeping students’ butts in the seats (actually, they should be standing up), but to creating more effective cheering and yelling.

The first thing we need to work on is timing our yelling. We rarely get loud when the opposing players are in the huddle. This is a critical time when the play is called—if we start our yelling during the huddle, it will not only increase the chances that a play is not heard correctly, but it will also help build up the excitement among the general fans, who usually take longer to join the yelling. On the flip side, we should not start chants when our team is in the huddle on offense. We have to let our offense call the play without having to compete with extra noise.

I don’t expect every fan to have this football knowledge; it’s the job of the yell leaders to inform them. However, the yell leaders have not been as effective as they could be in their role—a role that should wield great power. Often, they do not start yelling on defense until the opposing team has broken out of the huddle, and on offense, they start chants when we are in the huddle. They should take a cue from the band (superfans)—they play softly during the extra point after a touchdown despite the huge temptation to cheer.

I believe that employing more effective means of spreading the superfans’ knowledge to the rest of the student population is the best way to create a more mainstream football culture. A good first step is to have more effective yell leaders. With the combination of our swelling fan base and our tantalizing home schedule (Notre Dame, Oregon, Washington and Cal), we are positioned to create a more hostile environment and have College Gameday finally return to the Farm. And with our superfans at the helm, we’ll be ready for the season.

With a lockout looming over the NFL, Cyrus Pinto knows that it’s time to focus on making the most of Saturday football next season. Swap superfan strategies with him at cpinto “at”


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