Issue 113: Fan Chants, Ranked

One of the best parts of going to a sporting event is participating in the chants.

It’s actually a pretty impressive feat: tens of thousands of people all saying the same word or phrase in unison, sometimes with clapping and stomping thrown in.

Even if I’m not a fan of the home team, I still find myself getting swept away in the excitement of the crowd.

But not all chants are created equal. That’s why we need to rank ’em.

Note: these are all chants you’d hear at any game, regardless of playing level or who’s on the court. So a team-specific chant — like a vulgar one the University of Wisconsin cheering section might direct toward a conference rival, for example — doesn’t count.

10. Ref, You Suck!

I’d be willing to bet most of the people doing this chant have never officiated a basketball game at any level. Fun fact: it’s HARD. You could call a foul on every play if you wanted to.

But that would make for a pretty bad game, so you have to let some things go. Unfortunately, the crowd — whether it’s a packed arena or a smattering of parents believing their kids are the only ones in the world who matter — will disagree with you at least once per game.

They’re missing a lot of the stuff that happens on the court simply by, well…not being on the court. I don’t like that this chant insinuates the officials are bad at their jobs when it’s an unenviable position to be in, so this chant is the worst.

9. The Wave

While brainstorming the entries for this newsletter, I took to Instagram to see if there were any I forgot. One intriguing response was “the wave.”

It’s something I personally hate doing because, much like Meghan Trainor or Cardi B, people try to keep it going for far too long. One go-round of the wave is fine; a second is pushing it. By the ninth time around the arena, most of us are sick and tired of it.

There often is an accompanying “whoo!” that emits from people doing the wave. I’m not sure if that fully counts as a chant, so I’m keeping it pretty low to be safe (also the aforementioned disdain of it in general).

However, as any good chant does, the wave can distract players. Pardon the baseball example, but in this case, it’s a player on the home team getting distracted by the home crowd. So…not exactly what you want it to accomplish, but funny nonetheless.

8. Let’s Go [Team Name]

This one is among the lowest because there’s not a lot of creativity. I enjoy saying “let’s go!” in any number of situations, and even I can’t defend it.

If the team name is more than one syllable, the crowd needs to decide whether they’ll abbreviate it — “let’s go Pels” for the New Orleans Pelicans, for example — or just try to smush all the syllables in there together: “let’s go Banana Slugs!”

It’s often accompanied by clapping or the banging of a bass drum or floor tom by the PA system, so that’s a bonus. Not enough to get it any higher than this, though.

7. Here we go [Team Name], Here We Go

The distant cousin of “let’s go,” “here we go” is a bit more palindromic because you’re getting it at both the beginning and the end. The same issues with “let’s go” still apply, but because there’s no percussion to keep the beat, you can be a little more lax with your team name.

There’s also usually a *clap clap* after the second “here we go,” and that’s a nice touch to add at the end.

6. *Trumpet sound* Charge!

One-word chants are pretty easy for a crowd to get behind because they don’t require much effort. This one progressively builds up — it’s like the wave but it’s over after ten seconds, even with a handful of “charges” thrown in there.

As I’m typing this, I’m realizing that arenas are missing out on a golden opportunity to play this chant after an offensive foul. Maybe it happens, though I’ve never seen it.

Bonus points if you bring your own trumpet. But please, please know how to play it. I’m still scarred by the vuvuzelas of the World Cup and that was like a decade ago.

5. Nuts and bolts, nuts and bolts. We. Got. Screwed.

This was a great suggestion from my pal hash.daddy. I like this chant better than the “ref, you suck” one because it’s not nearly as cruel, and it’s also a good lesson in mechanical engineering.

When I was a kid I used to LOVE playing a game called Gizmos & Gadgets. The concept was to find different vehicle parts around…uh…maybe an abandoned warehouse or something? I don’t know if I ever figured out where I was, I just knew what I needed to do. That’s a good lesson for life, really.

In any case, you made your way through the rooms by solving various challenges about things like mechanical energy, magnets, or chemistry. Once you collected all the parts for your vehicle, be it a car, blimp, or plane, you took on the Master of Mischief to see whose vehicle was best.

Losing was devastating, but winning was oh so sweet. As you progressed, the challenges got progressively more difficult (you know, like in any game ever). To this day, it’s still one of the most entertaining, educational games I’ve ever played.

That’s what this chant reminds me of: childhood nostalgia.

4. Right, Left, Right, Left, SIT DOWN!

Only used when a player has fouled out of the game, this one is cool because the player can troll the crowd a bit.

Typically, when you’ve fouled out, you go sit on the bench (unless you make a spectacular scene and get ejected, instead). Members of the crowd will notice this, so they’ll call out your steps as you’re doing it. It’s like a military march but with a much better reward. The “SIT DOWN!” is when the player finally reaches their seat and…well, you’re narrating what they do.

When I was at Miami, I remember a few players deliberately taking a long time to find their seat. Sometimes they’d just stand in place, so the crowd quickly reacted with “Stand! Stand! Stand!”

Kind of a ridiculous thing to yell, but that’s why this is high up on the list.

3. DE-FENSE *Clap Clap*

You may not see a player foul out of a game that you attend. And there may be no traveling or double-dribbling or other kinds of unacceptable play.

But you know what you will always see? Defense.

Most PA systems will blast an accompanying clap or percussion alongside the defense, though I MUCH prefer when it’s a “de-fense!” followed by two claps. Sometimes you’ll get the claps or drum beats in unison with the “de-fense” and that’s just silly.

Bonus points if you whip out a “d-caf!” a la Peyton Manning.

2. “Ohhhh, Oh Oh Oh Oh Ohhhhh, Ohhh” from Seven Nation Army

Oddly enough, the actual melody of this song (at least the part people chant) is highly subdued. But when you hear it at a sporting event? Everyone gets HYPED.

The very first time I remember seeing and/or participating in this chant was during a dodgeball event I played in shortly after graduating college. We had one guy left on our team against six or seven on the other team. One by one, he started picking people off. After the first couple, we started up this chant and it grew INSANELY loud by the time it was one on one.

When he got that last opponent out, we swarmed the court like the bartender just announced it was last call and we all wanted to get our credit cards back. But there was better lighting on the dodgeball court.

1. You Can’t Do That! *clap clap, clap clap clap*

Said whenever someone performs an illegal move. For example, a travel, a double dribble, or punting the ball into the crowd.

This one is my favorite because it’s condescending but in a cute lil’ way. OF COURSE the player knows they’re not allowed to do whatever it is. Yet an arena full of 20,000 people has to remind them.

It’s like when you write “get eggs” on the grocery list, and then take a picture of it on your phone, and then walk to the aisle where the eggs are, and then instead you come home with a box of Frosted Mini-Wheats, a lobster roll, and 19 clementines.

We also get to pair a multi-word chant (a full sentence, in fact) with different clapping variants. It’s a complex combo that we rarely get to see, so when we do, I cherish it greatly. As should you.

What do you think? Did I miss any of your favorite chants? Reply to this email and tell me what’s what!

That’s all ’til next time. Thanks for reading!


P.S. Did you get this post shared with you? Subscribe to Crisp Bounce Pass here.

2 thoughts on “Issue 113: Fan Chants, Ranked

Comments are closed.