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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