* Partial credit: "the guy in B7"
August 9, 2008 6:26 PM   Subscribe

Does loud, distinctly heard cheering (not general crowd roar) "work"? Is it at least benign?

I understand that a loud energetic (adoring) crowd gets you more pumped up and assume that's subjectively and objectively established. But does a single person yelling a particularly loud phrase help? Or does it maybe hurt?

Yelling during golf is verboten, but athletes in nearly every other sport praise concentration and focus just like golfers.

Most of my prided work is done with an Undo button nearby. And no cheering. But have you ever been performing and had your name yelled (or even just a general "go!" that was directed toward you) and felt a surge? Or distraction?
posted by BaxterG4 to Grab Bag (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I personally think it could be kind of annoying. I remember watching a concert DVD where you hear one guy yelling "Sayu" (one of the performer's names) the entire time. If I were her, after a while I think I would be weirded out. Like everything, I guess, it's all about moderation.
posted by jrockway at 6:33 PM on August 9, 2008

My brother ran the New York Marathon, and he petitioned friends and family to stand at spaced intervals along the route, and yell his name. He's a little bit weird, I know, but it he felt it helped.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:43 PM on August 9, 2008

Speaking from my experience as both a performer and a concert attendee, people yelling shit from the audience, especially people yelling the same thing over and over, are extremely annoying.
posted by ludwig_van at 6:48 PM on August 9, 2008

I played many sports in High School, the only one I rememeber hearing people in was in baseball. It must be the slow pace and time you have between pitches. I mostly found it annoying. In football and basketball it's just a drone you don't hear at all.
posted by sanka at 6:55 PM on August 9, 2008

I've got terrible stage fright when it comes to playing my guitar. One time I finally worked up the nerve to perform, with the band I was in, in front of a small crowd. A few friends yelled "Yay, Sara!" or the like, and it made me even more self-conscious. They meant well, but...
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:00 PM on August 9, 2008

I was at a concert where I yelled for a song to be played the whole night. It annoyed everyone around me and when it was finally played late in the show everyone told me to shut the hell up. No acknowledgment whatsoever from the talent, they were used to it. Lesson learned.

I've run in races where people I know have cheered for me by name, and strangers have cheered for me by race number/clothing color just to help me out. The strangers cheering not only gave me a real boost, but I think helped a hell of a lot more than the cheers of people who I expected to hear. Hearing someone (unless they are also actively running at the time) yell at me during a normal everyday training run, even if the language was positive, will be taken as sarcasm and piss me off. But then I just think, "enjoy your cheeseburger, fatty" and run harder.

In a recent race one dude standing on a street corning screaming "500 yards 1028! 500 yards and you're done! Gun it motherf*cker! Gun it 1028!" Really really got me amped up and I burned out that final distance a lot faster than I would have otherwise. So yeah, in the right context I think it can help a whole hell of a lot. I took it more as this was some person who loved the sport (running) enough to come out and cheer for everyone rather than just the racers he knew. That's exciting in and of itself, but what if he was some superfamous running coach and he just happened to catch sight of me in that one race and was really impressed by my time or form or passion or whatever? I coulda been a contender! Hell yeah I'm gonna pick it up and run all out for that guy! Human beings can delude themselves into believing just about anything for just about any reason, and sometimes it's actually helpful.
posted by Science! at 7:14 PM on August 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

I don't like hearing people cheer for me. I feel like their expectations are too high and that just adds pressure. As far as scientific data goes, I can't find any. But whatever you do, don't ask anyone to pray for you at a critical moment.
posted by HotPatatta at 7:33 PM on August 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Sometime when you've got a chance, look up Texas A&M University and Kyle Field. It's frequently ranked as one of the most intimidating college football stadiums because the Aggies take "cheer leading" a little differently than everyone else in the country does.

Instead of "cheerleaders", Texas A&M has male yell leaders -- who, through a series of very large, easy to see hand motions and some pre-arranged signals, lead the entire three-tier student section (plus all of the other stands, which are full of alumni and fans) in synchronized yells that are specifically designed to disrupt concentration. The home team's used to this and can block it out -- they even practice with it piped in through a sound system in the practice facility. The away teams ... well, there's no way to prepare for 80,000 people yelling in synch. The sound literally makes your internal organs vibrate. Add into that all of the fans spinning a towel like a helicopter over their heads, and in the basketball arena (where the same thing happens) you can literally WATCH the guy trying to sink a free throw or six pointer falter and lose concentration.

I don't know of another school or professional team that has quite the reputation for fan antics along those lines.
posted by SpecialK at 8:15 PM on August 9, 2008 [3 favorites]

ack. Six pointer? Don't mix football with basketball, SpecialK.
posted by SpecialK at 8:16 PM on August 9, 2008

while a&m is home to the original 12th man syndrome - seattle seahawks have capitalized on it as well. their stadium is so loud that other teams have reported having issues with concentration - it seems to just pump up the seahawks themselves.
posted by nadawi at 8:55 PM on August 9, 2008

In every sport (football, basketball, etc.), at least as far as I know, teams have better records at home than on the road. I suppose that could have a tiny bit to do with familiarity, but all basketball courts and football fields are exactly the same size, so I suspect the crowd does have something to do with it.
posted by Autarky at 9:09 PM on August 9, 2008

Totally ancedotal, but when I played any sport-- and this is high school sport, not terribly elite, et cetera et cetera-- I never even noticed anybody yelling when I was in the thick of things. When concentrating, I was able (i say able but it isn't as though I did anything on purpose) to tune out just about everything around me. This includes track (sprinting) and team sports (basketball). For something like baseball, I would notice shouting when I wasn't actually doing anything, but if I was fielding a ball or swinging the bat, nothing.
posted by synecdoche at 9:39 PM on August 9, 2008

A yearly 26 mile marathon passes right by where I lived last year - I went out to watch and it was pretty much just me and sometimes one other person clapping and cheering. Several runners thanked me and said it helped, and some of them had written their names on their shirts specifically so we could yell those, too.

I think in that sort of case, where you'd just run 22 miles and had only a few more to go, someone saying "Yeah Joe! Awesome, you're really close, only 4 miles! Keep it up!" or whatever might provide a little boost or at least something to think about besides the boredom/pain.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:42 PM on August 9, 2008

I've played a lot of different sports at school and club level, and I have to agree that it only really made an impact on me in distance running (say, over 1500m). During most sports, you're concentrating, and (leaving aside extraordinary stuff like the A&M stadium) you just hear a buzz (I have enough trouble noticing my teammates yelling instructions sometimes). During long distance running you are just running, and (for myself at least) thinking 'must keep going...must keep going...catch that guy in front...to the next tree...still going...' and anybody paying attention to you can boost the energy levels and make you focus a little more on the goal and a little less on the pain.
posted by jacalata at 9:50 PM on August 9, 2008

The old Chicago Stadium was a sports venue notorious for reflecting the roar of the cheering crowd, and there were real concerns that the new, larger, modern United Center, when it was built, could not retain that element.

* Jackson says he believes that the roar from the Chicago Stadium crowd, like that at Madison Square Garden, will be beneficial to the home team.

"Now it's our court and the crowd helps give you energy," he said.

* The 20,532 fans at the United Center remembered the roar that reverberated through the old Chicago Stadium and greeted the Blackhawks with a resounding ovation Sunday night when they took the ice for their first home playoff appearance since April 26, 1997.

* Tony Amonte experienced the Chicago Stadium roar. He saw how the Blackhawks faithful, crammed into the old arena and enlivened by the grand organ, would provide unparallelled home-ice advantage.
posted by dhartung at 10:07 PM on August 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

The Seahawks stadium was apparently designed with this intimidation in mind to help the home fans generate more noise.
"Allen had the architects design the structure of the stadium, especially the roof, to direct as much crowd noise as possible on the field. In addition, the north end zone seating, called the "Hawks Nest", was specifically designed for rowdy fans; the seating consists of metal bleachers which reflect sound, and fans often stomp to create even more."
posted by stuartmm at 12:23 AM on August 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

I am not really qualified about sports, but until a few years ago, I used to play in a few bands, and did my fair share of gigs on small (and not so small) stages, in front of small (and again, not so small), generally not particularly attentive crowds - think support band or minor act at festivals - we were 'nobody', so to say. I still recall, though, a few moments when a particular passage in a song - a solo - a 'poignant' line in the lyrics, a particularly good and heartfelt rendition of this or that, would draw a split second of attention, then silence, then applause. Those are the moments when I understood that all the "artist" crap about connection to the audience, empathy, blablabla might have some sense after all. The general din might not help concentration, as indeed a generic roar, but I think there's a sort of positive feedback mechanism between performer and audience, and when that kicks in, it's just beautiful.

Yes, I miss playing.
posted by _dario at 3:41 AM on August 10, 2008

When I was a little kid (third grade?), my PE teacher signed us all up for a mini-marathon 'fun run'. Now I was a chubby little kid, and the last thing in the world I was good at was 'fun running'. The course started out as a few laps around a track before going through the city, and I got left behind pretty quickly. By the time I had to do my last lap, all the spectators were cheering for me.

So I couldn't stop _then_, right? I made it to the city part before I slowed down to walk.

Now I've competed in Judo, and I can't hear a thing when I'm up there.
posted by Comrade_robot at 5:51 AM on August 10, 2008

Studies seem to indicate that in top-end team sports, crowd noise helps the home team, not directly, but by influencing the referee's calls:

In what has become a famous experiment in sports-science circles, a sample of 40 referees were exposed to a recording of Liverpool 's match with Leicester at Anfield during the 1998-99 season, with half watching the match with all crowd effects included and half watching a silent version. The researchers found that the referees who heard the sound of the crowd were less likely to call fouls against the home team than the ones who saw the game in silence.

From (long, 2-part) Guardian article Home sweet home.
posted by Bodd at 6:20 AM on August 10, 2008

But have you ever been performing and had your name yelled (or even just a general "go!" that was directed toward you) and felt a surge? Or distraction?

Always a surge, never a distraction, from childhood where people who knew me would yell my name, to a few years ago when I did a triathlon, and our names where printed large enough on our race numbers for the crowd to read. It's a totally awesome feeling to have someone cheer for YOU, not just general cheering for your team.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 9:05 AM on August 10, 2008

Almost every cyclist that has raced here in Philadelphia and climbed the Manayunk Wall has commented in interviews that they 'got chills' or 'got goose pimples' at the sheer volume of the fans. People are standing shoulder-to-shoulder for a quarter mile or so, getting pretty hammered, and ringing cowbells and screaming at the top of their lungs.

Multiply this by a factor of ten thousand or so and you have Alpe d"Huez.

As a crappy three time marathoner and second rate bike racer I'd say, yes, I love it. No distraction.
posted by fixedgear at 12:36 PM on August 10, 2008

When I've sang in public, people yelling before and after were nice, but when people shout out well-meaning things during, it's terribly distracting and annoying, especially because I need to hear myself. I have definitely messed up before because of things like that.

Not exactly sports, but I would think it would be distracting to at least some people to hear yelling while they're trying to focus.
posted by Nattie at 12:56 PM on August 10, 2008

I played tennis in high school. One game, playing against our high school rivals, I ended up being the last set—if I won, it would be tied. I was going along and was down, but close to coming back. I called a hit out and the people from the opposing team started yelling how it was in and how it was a cheap shot, etc.

This freaked me out and I lost the game. (and I just lost the game)

It was pretty low on their part, not respecting my call. Would have never happened in professional tennis. But, it's not Wimbledon or anything. Nor is this really "cheering," more like jeering.
posted by Korou at 7:32 PM on August 10, 2008

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