Hockey Fans vs. the Band


Every time an opposing player is penalized at a University of Michigan home hockey game, the student fans begin chanting long strings of obscene epithets. After the first few times this happened, the band began playing loud music (lots of drums) to drown this out. This is a repeated game, with the students as the first-mover (strategy: chant/no chant), and the band a follower (strategy: play/don’t play).

By now, with many rounds (penalties) having occurred during games, other fans can’t hear the students at all; the second they begin to chant, the band begins playing.

This is not a desirable equilibrium for the students. What should they do to have some impact (assuming they aren’t just chanting to hear themselves)? They will always be first-movers, which is a disadvantage in this case; but perhaps if they randomize chanting (chant only at random penalties) they can surprise the band and have a few seconds of audible chanting.

Of course, after a while the band will simply start playing at every penalty, so randomized chanting won’t work either. I think the equilibrium is that the students will never be heard. Is there any hope for them?


"I think the equilibrium is that the students will never be heard."

I hope they won't. Hearing this sort of thing happens at my alma mater makes me sad.


This is terrible! The best part of going to U of M hockey games (I was a season ticket holder during undergrad) were all the chants. No doubt it made for a less than family friendly atmosphere but it did give Yost Arena a great home ice advantage. And to think, when I was there the band LED the chanting.

If I were still a student, I'd lead a coup that would include bullhorns and maybe signs. Also, part of the chant includes yelling "OHHHHHHHH!!!" until the player enters the penalty box (this sometimes takes 30-45 seconds). Maybe they could vary the length and timing of the begninning of the chant and catch the band off guard?


pay off the band leader - half a case of beer before the game, the other half after if he keeps quiet during penalties. everyone has a price.

otherwise, the crowd could always chant at random non-penalty points in the game. costs to band members of always being at the ready would likely be too high.


Students - think outside the box! One possibility is to work on content. If the content is semi-interesting, the band may hesitate to cover it up. Our local high school does some very creative chanting at bball games and then occasionally slips in an unmentionable.


Put squid in the tubas - that'll throw the band off.


I don't believe that band playing would be allowed during the game. Since the opposing team has to regain possession of the puck after a penalty is called before play stops, the chant should start as soon as the ref's arm goes up. The band can't play, the students can be heard and no beer (#3) has to change hands. This isn't perfect because the delay from the infraction taking place until play is stopped isn't consistent or very long at times but it may be the only workable compromise.

By the way #3, what the heck is a case of beer going to do for the band leader? I would think that a 1/2 keg would be the bare minimum needed to accomplish anything.


You have one of your facts wrong - the band started playing over the student section after years of this chant, not "the first few times."

I think Steve's solution is the best one - the band's not allowed to play during the game.

Leigh Caldwell

The students are, of course, achieving their desired result by getting the band to play loudly after every penalty. Stimulus-response. The nature of the response hardly matters - the students still have the satisfaction of gaining remote control over the band.


Students should make it a three stage game:
1.) Chant/Don't chant
2.) Play/Don't play
3.) Throw stuff at band leader/Continue to chant


Message cards, ala Kim il Sun (and the PacTen fans)?


They should begin their chanting whenever the band stops playing. This makes the band the first mover by extending the game to 2 acts.


Sneak a lion into the game. When the first player of the opposing team is ejected, wave a slab of beef under the lion's nose, take the lion off his leash, and throw the the beef into the band's section. This will not only let the students get their obscene words in after that particular penalty; it will also let the band know who's boss in the future.


The band is made up of students also, right? It doesn't seem like it should be that hard to influence the band with peer pressure outside of the stadium.


The students need to switch roles with the band.

Maybe if they add another game to this where the band is the first-mover (strategy: play/don't play), and the fans become a follower (strategy: make noise/don't make noise) they could use that to bargain against the band.

If the fans started making noise (using noisemakers, etc.) to drown out the band, I'd bet the band would eventually quit playing music to drown out the fans.

For the band to be able to play their music, they would have to let the fans do their chants...


I was part of U of M's hockey band for two years during undergrad, and I have to say that listening to the student section cheer was one of the most amusing parts of the experience.

I agree with Steve; the band can't play during the game so cheers after or before the break would be the most effective.


What a sad state of affairs - the home advantage provided is being compromised when the band and crowd compete. Arguably, the UofM players lose.

A better approach by the hockey team/administration would be to instruct the referees to give the home team a bench minor penalty every time the obscene chant is heard. After a few power-play goals scored against them, the students themselves will be screaming obscenities at any student daring to start the chant.

Then they should post up some clever cheers or distribute song sheets - band and crowd working together...


There is a similar phenomenon at University of Maryland basketball and football games. The band used to play "Rock & Roll, Part 2" (The Hey! Song) at key moments (scores in football, beginning of the game in both) and such. Then there was a lot of bad press because the students, like many others, add "You Suck!" after the "Hey" part of the song. The band was forbidden to play the song. Then, students organized and started singing/chanting a makeshift version of the song on their own. Then the band started playing the fight song over the students. Now we have a kind of competition, though I think the students usually drown out the band. Well, they do within the student section. Less so on TV, I've noticed now that I'm not a student any more.


I've been to many college hockey games (cheering against U of M), and the reason the band plays is because the excessive obsenities shouted from the stands would cause a penalty against Michigan, therefore negating any power play. It's actually to the benefit of the team that the band plays over the fans. If the fans want to make a point, they need to get creative, yet subtle. Signs may work, or maybe body painting? At Western Michigan, we'd throw small penny candy into the penalty box - it's hard to bust someone doing it and it annoys the heck out of the guy inside.


It's part of the anarchistic tradition. I remember when a sousaphone player invented - during a hockey game too - the little bit that became the "Let's Go Blue" cheer - now used at schools all over (with different words, duh). And there's a solid chance the football crowd invented two chants, the warring "tastes great / less filling" done by one section of the crowd versus another and the "bulls....................t" cheer done after penalties. (The dots reflect the long and drawn out pronunciation.) Can't be stamped out and can't be completely controlled.


"A better approach by the hockey team/administration would be to instruct the referees to give the home team a bench minor penalty every time the obscene chant is heard. After a few power-play goals scored against them, the students themselves will be screaming obscenities at any student daring to start the chant."

That will never happen. This rule appears in rulebooks for a number of leagues. I have refereed in some of those leagues for nearly a decade. I have never, ever, even approached giving a team a penalty for what their fans do off the rink. Its just part of the game...