As the 2013-2014 season approaches, TNIAAM is asking the tough question. Is the Syracuse Fan Stand & Clap a good tradition or a dumb one? We're defending it here. You can read the argument against it over here.
I've been staring at this blank screen for about two hours now. In fact, that last sentence was the first one I haven't deleted after just a few seconds of sitting in frustration.
Wow, look at that, I'm on a roll of writing words and then not quickly erasing them from the record!
So what's the problem? Why all the restarts? Well, I have no clue how to start this column. Something I volunteered for as writing about a tradition decades old speaks to me. And to me there is no questioning: this is all about tradition.
Still, how do I start it, and how do I explain why I like it? That I enjoy the concept of standing and clapping before the first basket scored by Syracuse. How do you cover a topic that is sure to get everyone's attention, one way or another? I mean, who hasn't had an impassioned discussion about this very topic a million times?
It's such a hot debate that I'll be joined by several TNIAM contributors who just couldn't let the post go by without throwing in their thoughts. Which is lucky for me, as I still sit here struggling to put to words my own thoughts.
For me, though? It's complicated because every single time I set my beer down, make sure I don't knock over any other beers or bags or coats in my vicinity, and stand up and clap after the opening tip-off I think, Oh my God, how long are we going to stand this time? I complain, I bitch, I whine.
Every. Damn. Time.
Really, the entire process of standing and clapping is awkward, right? Not to mention I've always felt it's added pressure to the Orange -- it's not like the players don't sense the mounting frustration should a basket take a few minutes. It's an all around pain in the ass for everyone, every single game, twice a game. The fans will undoubtedly stand up, clap, look a little dazed, and eventually get pissed at how long it's taken for them to actually sit their asses back down. While the players assuredly sense how long it's taking them to score a freaking basket.
Yet, there's something romantic about the entire process. I'm a sucker for history. Which is the root of my writers block. Ultimately I hate doing it, but this concept of standing and clapping is a real live tradition for a school lacking in proper odes to its past. Elsewhere there's the Cameron Crazies, or "Rock Chalk, Jayhawk," or even Pauley Pavilion, but when it comes to Syracuse University, football or basketball speaking, there's standing and clapping. That's it and that's really all.
It's a point echoed by colleague Chris Daughtery:
It's just something that you do at SU games. It's part of the pageantry, even if it's a lame part. Most college sports traditions are pretty lame. But you stick with them because it's what makes games at your home venue special.
Yeah, that's good, I like that. Now where getting somewhere.
And standing and clapping isn't exclusive to the Dome! Have you ever been at the Big East Tournament for a Syracuse game? There may not be a cooler sight for Orange faithful than when Syracuse fans take over the Garden at the start of each game. Like thousands of followers attending church and rising from the pews together. Chills!
Over time it's just become The Thing we do. Which is unlike the other so-called traditions that have come and gone on the Hill. TNIAM writer Marc Micke points out that standing and clapping until the first field goal in hoops has as much merit as it has longevity.
Syracuse tends to weed out the traditions that fail to keep up with the times or socially acceptable customs, yet the stand and clap has persevered. It wasn't long ago that students greeted every made free throw by an opponent with a very loud "s#*t!", followed by "s#*t!...F8@k you you @$$#*le!" if they made both ends of the one and one...fortunately there were no three pointers back then, for I can't imagine what offensive and horribly unoriginal phrase the students would have come up with for a three shot foul. Not surprisingly, these "colorful" traditions tend to lose their luster after a while. The stand and clap is both family friendly, and reasonably simple to execute (although our aforementioned friends in sections 107-109 can only hold a beat for about 15 seconds tops).
Lack of rhythm aside, there's nothing more family friendly than getting out of your seat and showing support for both the past and the present team by clapping in unison. I think we're cooking now! It's something Syracuse is known for and it is something better than cursing out other players.
And, as fellow Nunesmagician-ian, Lisa Nelson, asks, at what other point in a any game do the majority of Syracuse fans actually do anything together?
Please tell me I'm wrong on this one: we don't do much else...for the entire game. Every single person in attendance does this. That's more than I can even say for the "Let's go Orange" chants along the way. I can't justify getting rid of the stand-and-clap when nothing else happens.
Plus, as Marc writes, standing and clapping may have an even greater value than just some sort of therapeutic practice in nostalgia.
Take away the stand and clap and you take away all of the in-game exercise for pretty much all of Section 107-109...if any of our curmudgeonly septuagenarian sweater vest-wearing fans drops dead from nacho cheese sauce clogging their arteries, their blood is on YOUR hands Sean!!!
Seriously, Sean, do you want a bunch guys and gals to miss out on their only forms of exercise??? Yeah, they could just go for walks, hit the gym, or even just cut out the fatty foods, but that's not the point here!
The point is standing and clapping is our thing. And as Lisa suggests, it's better to have that as our thing than some of the other potential things.
If you want to get rid of something, get rid of the wave. The basketball set up is terrible for it. Besides, 1977 called...
Seriously, you'd rather have the wave? Really? Because that must be what you want if you want to cut out the practice of standing and clapping.
But you know something? After all of this, all the great points made, I keep deleting lines. Standing and clapping to the fans that really hate it, is just a waste of time and always will be. An annoyance. It's not like it's centuries old and, as I've freely admitted, it can be aggravating.
I don't know the answer here. What I do know is that come Friday, an official will toss the ball up and a player from Syracuse or Cornell will catch it and the season will officially start. And, like clockwork, the crowd in the Dome will stand and clap like it has so many times before. This may last a few seconds or, more than likely, a few minutes. Most of the fans will complain, some will even say, Screw this and sit down, but those who can will continue standing until the Orange scores a bucket.
Like a family sing-along at Christmas time. It's just what you do, and you know, if it were to end, you'd miss it. Love it or love to hate it, tradition has to go on. Even if I never find the right words to explain why.