New Student Section Policies Alter School Spirit


Henry Robertson

Senior Riley Shafritz leads flashlight rollercoaster at first home football game

For many, Hurley Field can be a place where students from all grades come together to participate in the long-time Friday night tradition of high school football. With the marching band performing in the stands, the cheer team encouraging the players, and the team playing their best, the student section has always been a loud and proud part of Berkley games. So, when new regulations regarding the section came out in an email on Aug. 25, some of the community embraced the changes while others felt differently.

In the email, Athletic Director Taylor Horn lays out the new expectations for the student section. The list prohibits drug and alcohol usage at games, vulgar language, and “unruly behavior”. Those previous regulations may seem obvious, but the last item on the list was a shock to many. The new regulation states that “noisemakers, bullhorns, and speakers” are prohibited at games. Last year, the speaker and other noise devices were staples for football games that some community members embraced. A group of parents attempted to fight against the rule in an email to Mr. Horn, stating that watching the student section use the speaker was a “highlight” and that “It was quite noticeable, the lack of excitement in the air compared to last year”. The email also proposed a compromise, requesting that an approved list of songs be allowed to be played on a speaker.

However, what many in the community may not have realized is that the rule is mandated by the Michigan High School Athletic Association and not unique to Berkley. “The speaker was allowed for one year. That’s the only time a speaker was allowed, and I got in trouble for it by the MHSAA”, Mr. Horn stated. The organization has a rule against “artificial noise” in any student section, not just Berkley’s. He even conceded that he felt having a speaker did raise the energy of the student section, but ultimately the banning of noisemakers was out of his control. Likewise, his response to the parents email encompassed these standards. “The parents did like it, but at the end of the day the MHSAA says no, so my hands are tied,” he said.

Mr. Horn also raised a separate point about the other performances at the games. He claimed that a speaker in the student section disrupts the marching band and cheer team who are both trying really hard to put on good performances. Senior marching band member Joe Ozanich agrees with this sentiment, saying, “[the band members] put a lot of time and effort into the music, and for it to be drowned out… it felt like they didn’t care at all that we were even there.” Another band member, junior Ben Fredal, noted that the speaker was distracting and sometimes got the group off-track.

Overall, Mr. Horn wanted to make it clear that he prioritizes students’ ability to celebrate and have fun, just in less disruptive ways. “As long as we can respect others, we’re going to create a good environment,” he relays.

Students have varying opinions about these new regulations, especially the ones surrounding noisemakers. Some, like Ozanich, welcome the change. Others feel differently, like sophomore linebacker Kyle Gabriel. “The speaker gets everybody hyped… it made the game fun,” Gabriel stated, disagreeing with the regulation. Senior football player, Marsalis Rhodeman, suggested that more communication between those with the speaker and the marching band could enable them to both play. Despite the community’s perspectives on the situation, BHS has no control over the speaker policy due to it being an MHSAA rule. No matter your opinion on the new policies, the games remain a great place to hang out with your friends and show school spirit for the team.