Dear editor,

I left the men’s soccer match last Wednesday frustrated and embarrassed. Our team didn’t have its best showing, but that’s not what really bothered me. What really got under my skin was the heckling by our fans. 

For starters, I don’t think it’s working. If anything, instead of getting in the other team’s head, our hecklers seem to fuel the other team’s determination. I’ve seen it happen at multiple men’s games — basketball, volleyball and soccer. 

It’s reached the point that I don’t really want to go to men’s games anymore. It’s too painful and awkward. 

What starts out as interesting and creative GC cheers for our team, slowly devolves into singling out players from the other team and needling them by name with taunts that are, at best, daft and juvenile. (At worst, some of them could easily be heard as thinly-veiled racist or sexist goading.) After a while, there is little cheering for GC and mostly jeering at the other team. 

For some reason, it seems to happen almost exclusively at men’s events. The doubleheader last Wednesday against Holy Cross was a good example. The cheering at the women’s match was totally different than that of the men’s match, which makes me wonder if this is a kind of hyper-macho “hazing” of the other team. 

It has all the marks of toxic masculinity: “They can handle it. It’s good for them. This is what you have to go through if you want to play against Goshen.” None of this makes me proud to be a GC fan.

I hesitate to send this letter because I don’t want to sound like the professor who wags his finger at students — and, by the way, I have zero authority to make or enforce rules outside my classroom. 

But I actually believe these actions aren’t really representative of the campus as a whole, and I have a feeling that I’m not the only one leaving men’s matches early because of the jeering. 

So, consider this an invitation to a campus discussion about our student fan culture. As a campus community, I think we can do better and I think our student-athletes deserve better from their fans. 

In short, I would like to humbly ask the leaders of our student section to keep the heckling of other team members to a minimum — or, better yet, cheer for our team. 

If you must heckle, aim it at the referees after a bad call, and keep it light — that, one could argue, is part of the home-field advantage. 

In the meantime, I will be steering clear of these events and happily cheering for the GC women.

Robert Brenneman is a professor of criminal justice and sociology.