By Jeff Fein
I hate to admit it – in fact it physically pains me to write this – but Cornell hockey has great fans. I went to a game in Ithaca two weeks ago, a 4-2 Big Red win over Clarkson University, and discovered to my utter dismay that all the rumors I’d heard about Cornell fans being mobilized, organized and downright ruthless are absolutely true.
I watched in horror as hundreds upon hundreds of Ivy League nerds cheered their heroes and taunted their adversaries until they had swayed the game in favor of their beloved Big Red. Despite the urgings of my Cornellian friends, I obstinately refused to cheer, stating that I had put too much time and effort into heckling the Cornell hockey team to throw it all away on a one-night stand. Instead, I spent my time suppressing the urge to vomit in the presence of so much Big Red revelry and taking mental notes on how we, as Raider fans, can harness Cornell’s home-ice powers to help our own, more righteous, cause.
As the Raiders prepare to face off against its most repugnant rival this weekend (tonight in Ithaca, tomorrow at Starr Rink at 7 p.m.), I implore the Raider Nation to remember the following dogmas of truly great hockey fans.
It’s all about winning: When you come to Starr Rink, put aside your so-called “morality.” There is no code of ethics when it comes to hockey games. We’re trying to win games, not make friends. Don’t be afraid to tell an opposing player he sucks, even if he’s really good (especially if he’s really good). And when the other team’s goalie lets up a Raider score, stand up with the rest of us, point at him and chant “it’s all your fault” until you get the feeling he believes it.
Don’t feel bad about jeering. They’re hockey players; they pick up more chicks than farmers do. They bask in plenty of glory back home, so make sure they take plenty of grief when they come to Hamilton. It’s to our team’s advantage.
And listen up, Pep Band: You’re going to have to stop playing “Three Blind Mice” when the three refs come out on the ice to warm up. It’s counterproductive. Play something more feel-good, like “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” or that School House Rock classic, “Three is a Magic Number.” We’re trying to get them on our side, you bunch of musical bullies.
Be unified: One psycho in the student section shouting at the opposing team is funny, but it doesn’t do much to lower our opponent’s morale. And a single fan chanting “Let’s go Raiders” won’t spur our team to victory. But when an entire Maroon Platoon of psychos is cheering their heads off, it can make a real difference in the game. At Cornell, every cheer is backed by every voice in the crowd. It was rather frightening for me as a spectator and I can only imagine how the other team felt about it.
Take initiative: When my friends and I arrived at last Saturday’s game against Brown, I thought there was a silent auction going on. After a good amount of disorderliness on our part, the crowd ascended from hopeless mediocrity to hopeful mediocrity, and we felt great about ourselves (it wasn’t just the booze). If you feel the cheering section sounds more like they’re at the Barge than at a game, become the cheering section. An extra loud rendition of “Let’s go ‘Gate” coupled with a few timely jokes about the coach’s mother forces those around you to either let their guard down and cheer or cower in terror, preferably the former.
Get personal: During my time at Cornell, I met the girlfriend of Big Red assistant captain Chris Abbott. Her name is Jane, and the fact that she’s very pretty and kind shouldn’t stop us from telling Abbott what an ugly wench she is. The coach’s questionable job security, the hilarious name of a player’s hometown (Cornell first-year Taylor Davenport is from Okotoks, Alberta: “Go back to Okotoks, Davenport!”) or even the goalie’s mother’s phone number (as Cornell fans chanted last year when our team visited them) are all fair game. Don’t shy away from calling Cornell defenseman Dan Glover “a poor man’s Samuel L. Jackson” or labeling Big Red forward Mitch Carefoot a podiatrist, and a lousy one at that. Good hecklers do their research, so borrow a program from a townie and tell Cornell how you really feel.
Cheer for EVERYTHING: What impressed me most about Cornell fans was their sheer tirelessness. When an opposing player lost his stick, the crowd chanted “stick-less” until he picked it up again. When an opposing player argued with a referee, they chanted, “frustrated.” (I guess all they were doing was calling out adjectives, but the sound of hundreds of people calling out the same adjective in unison is one to behold). When Cornell almost scored, they cheered. When their stellar goalie David McKee made a nice save, they cheered and bowed down to him. They even cheered the guy who drives the Zamboni as he polished the ice between periods.
It became clear to me that Colgate fans need to do the same, but with our own variations. Whereas Cornell fans scream “Ahhh” when an opposing player incurs a penalty and yell “See ya a–h—, you goon” when he sits down in the penalty box, I think the Raider faithful should wait until our announcer finishes describing the penalty and then chant, “Hey Number (whatever number the player is): you’re a huge d-bag!” And while Cornell fans spend much of the game calling the opposing goalie a “siv” (since the goalie lets everything through – I think Martha Stewart made that one up), we should degrade the opposing goalie by calling him “mesh” or “Swiss cheese” or something else with holes. As for cheering the Zamboni driver, we should unabashedly copy them. The Zamboni guy could use some love.
Hockey fans, unite! Tomorrow is the biggest night of the season. Do your part to send Cornell home with a loss and a bruised ego. As a great heckler once put it, “winning is way more fun when you make the other team feel bad about themselves.” Amen.