What We Can Learn From Jean Peck

I’m a little late to the party on this, but it’s too good to let it go by without comment:

A woman recently wrote a letter to the editor of the Lincoln Journal-Star.  Her beef?  Fans chanting “Husker Power” before basketball games – specifically, during when the starters for the other team are being introduced.  This woman, Jean Peck, feels it is “rude and unsportsmanlike”, and fears that such a cheer could “tarnish” the reputation Nebraskans have for being good fans.


On one hand, I can see where Jean is coming from.  Nebraska spent the last 25 or so years playing at the Bob Devaney Sports Center, a place so lacking in atmosphere and competitive advantage, that media members often referred to it as the “Lincoln Library”.  Going to a game at the new Pinnacle Bank Arena, where Nebraska is enjoying a healthy home court advantage, must have been a shock.

But really?  The Husker Power chant is unsportsmanlike?  For those who are unfamiliar, the chant works like so:

  1. One half of the building shouts “Husker”
  2. The other half of the building shouts “Power”
  3. Repeat.

That’s it.  There is no foul language, thinly veiled threats, sexual innuendo, or anything that taunts, harms, demeans, or otherwise attacks an opposing player or coach on a personal level.  Maybe you can make a case that cheering over the P.A. announcer while the other team is being introduced is rude – but only to the P.A. guy, and even that is a reach.

But what I find fascinating is how many lessons one can learn from a simple, 107 word letter.  Among them:

  • Some folks have wayyyyy too much time on their hands.  Seriously, Jean – consider picking up a hobby.
  • Clearly, Jean has never been to basketball game (high school or college) with a strong and rambunctious student section.  Often times the introductions of opposing players are met with a chorus of “Who cares? He sucks!”.  Back in my day, we all pretended to read the Daily Nebraskan as the other team was introduced.  Both of these are more rude than Husker Power.
  • Some fans don’t understand that loud and intimidating does not necessarily mean rude and obnoxious.  Personally, I really like how Nebraska volleyball fans handle player introductions.  After each player is announced, the crowd claps three times in unison.  I think the resulting effect (“Amanda Whatsherface” *clap*  *clap*  *clap* ) would be rather intimidating for an opponent, especially when done by 8,000 fans.
  • However, quiet and friendly almost always leads to a losing season.  Nebraska basketball has stunk for a while.  A large part of that is due to a lack of talent, and the struggles of past coaches, but having zero atmosphere did not help.
  • There are people who attending sporting events who are more concerned with how their team/university/city is perceived than in if their team/university/city actually wins.
  • Life in Lincoln, Nebraska is pretty damn good if this is a debated topic of conversation.  (The other letters printed that day were about global warming and using resources to protect trees from an invasive beetle).
  • Newspapers – and especially the Journal-Star – are not above trolling their readers for a reaction (and online clicks).  Unless they only received three letters on that day, fishing for a reaction is the only logical explanation for why this letter saw the light of day.

Personally, I think the last one is the biggest lesson to learn – and the most disappointing.

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Jean Peck is my grandma and I couldn’t be prouder. She, at over eighty years old, is Nebraska’s biggest fan. She enjoys traveling to see her kids, grand kids and great grand kids, quilting, golfing, and is an avid reader, cross word puzzler and volunteers her time at her local library re-shelving books. Having hobbies is not an issue for her. She and my grandad, despite their age and ups and downs of good health, faithfully attend every football game, often traveling to away games, and the vast majority of volleyball and basketball games, and since my childhood I’ve never known her to come home from any of them with much of a voice because she yells so loud. On no-stand Sunday, she admitted she did sit down during time outs, but that was it.
She yells Husker power louder than anyone, but she also has been a Husker fan longer and stronger than any of the nasty commenters who sent her degrading and even startlingly rude comments on her letter posted online. No one could be more excited than she is about the new enthusiasm of the basketball fans, and the team’s recent success. She just loves it when Nebraska fans applaud the opposing football team off the field, and hates it when they boo. She is part if a generation who feels it is important for people to honor and respect the opposing team, and is always the first to greet opposing teams’ fans and be kind and welcoming to them.
I love college kids who are excited about their sports teams, and I expect them to act like college kids, even though sometimes that means they might be a little obnoxious. I also hope they grow into adults like Grandma Jean.
Just thought I’d give a little perspective on this Big Red lady I love.

    First and foremost – I love this comment, and I thank and respect you for posting it.

    I love hearing about fans (of any age) who passionately support the Huskers. The LJS piece about the 89 year old man who stood for the entire game on Sunday being a good example.

    I too, believe that you can support the team and still be friendly and respectful to our opponent. I’ve written before that words over the gates of the football stadium (greatest fans in college football) is more than the boasts of an unloved A.D. – it is a reminder of the responsibility we have to uphold one of the things that truly makes Nebraska special. For a number of years, I’ve made a point to tell an opposing fan “good luck” before the game and “good game” afterwards – win or lose – and that is an example I will set for my children.

    Your grandma Jean sounds like a wonderful woman, so it’s really unfortunate that her spirit and passion did not come through in her letter.

    All the best to you and your grandma!

She also plays bridge multiple times a week, learns new piano pieces (she’s an accomplished pianist), has an evening cocktail with her husband and sings in the church choir. I don’t want to leave anything out.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

Dear Tim Miles | Feit Can WriteMarch 10, 2014 at 1:01 pm

[…] turn-around must go to the new Pinnacle Bank Arena – the atmosphere is so raucous that the blue hairs are writing letters to the editor to complain about the noise.  But we both know that a Doc Sadler or Barry Collier team would not […]

[…] Jean Peck thinks Nebraska basketball fans are “rude” for chanting “Husker Power” during team introductions. […]

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