Monday, June 29, 2009

Cheering For Dummies

Via the Shyster over at his NBC Circling The Bases gig, the guys from Freakonomics have a some complaints about the chants at Citi Field last night, and it's not the one you'd expect to hear from a middle aged guy who took his family to a game:
A pattern quickly emerged. The many Yankees fans regularly broke into their thunderous cheer: “Let’s go Yankees!” (clap-clap-clap-clap … clap-clap). If you are a Yankees fan (we are; but we do not hate the Mets), this was a sign of what might be called prideful hubris, or maybe hubristic pride: we can come into your stadium and rock it very, very hard.

How’d the Mets fans respond? Succinctly. In the space where the Yankees fans did their rhythmic clapping, Mets fans shouted “Yankees suck!”


This pattern was repeated all night. What surprised me is that neither side found a way to improve their effort.
The problem with chanting is that it is, by definition, the lowest common denominator. The more clever or unique the fewer people are going to jump on board with you. If the chant isn't immediately recognizable, it won't spread. Conversely, when someone starts up with "Let's go Yank-ees" invariably, at least a few people will tag along.

As for "Yank-ees Suck!", is it my imagination, or did that only used to be the domain of Red Sox fans? I've heard the chant break out at concerts in the Boston area or pretty much any other public setting where more than 50 drunk people are gathered together. Now the de facto anti-Yankees chant throughout basically every place the Bombers have visited this year.

Regardless of the hollow inanity of "Let's Go Yank-ees" or the falsehood of "Yank-ees Suck" I'm afraid they are here to stay. Aside from "Hip-Hip-Jorge" and other player-centric chants, this is what stadium cheering has been dumbed down to.


  1. This is generally one of the "problems" with American sports in comparison to others like soccer: The cheering is generally canned. Most of the time it's done when the screen says "let's make some noise" or something like that.
    There's very little spontaneity or creativity.

  2. I agree with you on that one Ber. The cheering traditions are largely lacking in American sports and the one they pipe through the loudspeakers are dull and unexciting.

  3. I've tried for some time to get some Euro soccer-style, player/manager/situation-centric chants and/or songs going for the Yankees and other sporting favorites of mine, but the cold hard truth is that here... IN THIS COUNTRY... most fans are cut from a decidedly more Cletus cloth than the one required to buy into a little bit of creativity.

  4. Best chant at Yankees stadium I heard was in '04 when Yankees fans chanted "who's your daddy" at Pedro. Didn't work out as well as one would hope, but was still awesome to hear.

    Basketball has some good chants. Duke fans would chant "you killed abel" at UNC's Jason Cain for example.

    Pro sports will probably have lame chants as their governing bodies want them to be family friendly and, well, a lot of chants aren't family friendly. Or friendly.

    College sports though...that's where chants and cheers will live on forever. Tradition, plus tens of thousands of drunk kids will see to that.