The high school basketball season gets under way Friday night when everything athletes, fans and coaches do gets scrutinized more closely than during outdoor fall activities. Remarks that flutter away on autumn breezes find their way to officials’ ears or those of opposing fans and players. With that in mind, here are a few suggestions.

• One local basketball coach complained recently that it seemed his games were played in a morgue instead of a high school gymnasium. Administrators had put the clamps on student cheering and cheers and there was no energy in his gym. There’s a fine line to be treaded here, but at some schools, administrators have wiped it out completely in an attempt to be politically correct.

Students should be encouraged to cheer. They’re high school kids and they like to let off steam. Every administrator will tell you they agree with this premise but then adds “they have to be positive cheers.” It other words, no ragging on the opposing team. To me, there’s nothing wrong with yelling during free throws. It happens in 90 percent of the gyms in the country. In fact, I think when it’s deathly quiet, there’s more pressure on the shooter.

“You can’t do that,” “scoreboard,” “winning team, losing team,” and the like are acceptable albeit unoriginal cheers that shouldn’t bother anyone. It’s when cheers get personal or profane that they should be stopped. Let kids be kids and have a little fun. It’s preferable to hearing adults in the crowd complain about officials and rarely getting reprimanded. There are some great gyms out there — Lawrence and Brunswick come to mind — where the students make every game an exciting event.

Students bear some responsibility, too. Get a few leaders to organize cheers. Hyde School of Bath is a great example.

• Fans who have scant knowledge of the rules somehow feel compelled to yell at officials. A piece of advice: Keep it to yourself or the person next to you. When you yell — especially if you have no idea what you’re talking about — you sound like a jerk. Sure, a blown call can cost a game now and then, but this is the exception rather than the rule.

• The National Anthem precedes just about every game. I prefer a recording but I realize a lot of folks (no idea why) want to get in on the act. If you must select someone to sing, at least sample them beforehand. I’ve heard some embarrassing versions that no one should be subjected to.

• Don’t gouge fans at your concession stand. If you charge $1 or more for a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, at least fill a large cup. And if a slice of pizza costs $2 or more it better be hot and tasty. If you don’t want fans to bring food into your gym, at least provide a place where they can eat.

• I shouldn’t even have to mention this, but I hear it often enough to bring it up. Don’t criticize players on your own team, or for that matter the other team. Oddly enough, though, criticism of players usually comes from fans (parents) of their own team.

• If your school has a band, encourage it to play at games. Nothing creates atmosphere at a high school like a lively band.

• I realize warm-up music is usually selected by the players for the players or to impress their friends in the stands. But remember your grandmother may be listening, too. It’s nice to throw her a bone now and then.

• Coaches and officials are closely scrutinized by their peers or superiors and don’t need any advice from me. Just remember, when you become the show, you detract from the players and the game.

• Why is it, after player introductions and halftime 50/50 announcements, the microphone goes dead? It’s nice to hear players acknowledged throughout the game after they score a basket. That goes for both teams. Cony’s Mike Hopkins does a great job at this and it adds to the excitement of the game.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

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