Last Saturday during the Andover/Exeter Boys Varsity Basketball game, the energy in the gym was palpable as both teams played neck-and-neck throughout the entire 90 minutes. Cheers and routines led by the Blue Key Heads and Andover SLAM kept the spirit alive as students, faculty and parents cheered for their teams.
Unfortunately, the positive energy and sportsmanship of the game was spoiled as Exeter students began taunting, mocking and yelling loudly at Andover’s team. During timeouts, some students would record Andover coaches’ speeches and remarks with their mobile devices, while others deliberately shouted at the team members. The incident got so far out of hand that Carlos Hoyt and Tony Kodis had to interfere, protecting Andover players and coaches from the aggressive opposing fans.
This behavior from Exeter at the game was unacceptable. It blatantly defied the Fans’ Code of Conduct posted in the DiClemente Court in Borden Gym, which states, “We expect all spectators at our contests to be respectful of players, coaches, officials and other spectators. Fans are encouraged to applaud the efforts of their team and should not engage in any behavior that is critical, distracting or derogatory toward opponents or officials.”
When Andover players were given free throws, Exeter students would scream and chant remarks very loudly to throw Andover’s players off. In contrast, when Exeter’s players took free throws, Andover fans remained quiet and respectful.
Sam Glazer ’15, a member of Boys Varsity Basketball, said, “In the first huddle, our first time out, [Coach Terrell Ivory] talked right to the crowd.” To the merit of the team, however, it did not let Exeter’s actions affect its own.
“[Captain] Jake [Howell ’14] kept us in line and told us to just stay focused. We didn’t listen to the chirps, but we let them know when something was going to happen,” Glazer added.
Andover students did not follow Exeter’s behavior in any sense during the game. “I appreciate the rivalry between Andover and Exeter, and I understand the competitive nature between the two schools; however, at this weekend’s basketball game some of what I witnessed was hurtful to competitors which I did not like. During one point in the game Exeter fans joined Andover’s timeout huddle, which crossed a boundary I was not comfortable with,” said Peyton McGovern ’16.
Behavior like that shown at the Saturday games should never be allowed, especially between two schools who have such a strong bond. Andover and Exeter’s long-running school rivalry does not give students the excuse to behave in such a way that makes anyone feel uncomfortable or compromises the game for the opposing team and fans.
In future sports games and Andover/Exeter contests, codes of conduct should be established, issued and enforced. These regulations should stress that behavior that may be detrimental to the success of the players or negatively interfere with any aspect of the game, whether it be consulting the referee or chanting and yelling disrespectful remarks at either players or opposing fans, will not be tolerated. This should be addressed or announced at the beginning of each game to remind fans to be mindful of players and those around them. Spectators who fail to follow this set of rules should be dismissed from the game or even asked to leave the campus in severe cases. Public Safety should also be present at games to prevent similar incidents from happening again.
I hope the administration will take into consideration the events that had happened at this past Andover/Exeter Weekend and will thoughtfully plan ahead for the home games to come this Spring Term.