Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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How to Bring the Noise to Rec Hall Next Wrestling Season

In three days the 2024 U.S. Team Trials for wrestling will be hosted by Penn State at the Bryce Jordan Center. These trials will determine the United States’ wrestlers for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games, and there are 19 wrestlers with ties to Happy Valley who have qualified to take part. 

Two days of amazing wrestling right here in State College, just four weeks after Penn State set a number of records in winning another NCAA wrestling national championship as well as several individual national titles. In other words, as the local wrestling aficionados like to say, “Pinning is our business, and business is good!”

Except, after the trials, then we’ll have a wrestling lull for more than half-a-year. Penn State’s wrestling schedule for next season won’t be published for a while, but if it works the way it has in recent years, we’re looking at seven months from now until we’ll be back in Rec Hall cheering on Coach Sanderson and his squad.

However, this gives us fans an amazing opportunity. We have been unofficially challenged to come up with a way to help the Penn State wrestling team, a way to give back to this wonderful group of coaches and wrestlers who represent the sport and school with such excellence. And it won’t cost any of us any money either! 

What is the challenge, you ask? Here it is: how do we make more noise in Rec Hall?

For those fans who attended the last wrestling dual meets of this past season, they were introduced to a heretofore unthinkable occurrence: music playing over the Rec Hall speakers WHILE a wrestling match was going on! I know, shocking. For many folks, it was akin to heresy.

Now, anyone who has attended Penn State wrestling matches in Rec Hall knows the fan rules and etiquette:

  • Only go to the restroom and concessions before the dual or at halftime – those seats are tight enough as it is and it’s difficult to get in-and-out.
  • During a match, sit quietly while perhaps squirming and shifting a bit in a way to provide imaginary leverage for the Penn State wrestler.
  • The following outbursts are acceptable during a match: “Three!!,” “Two!!,” and “Stalling!!!”
  • Otherwise, normally only applaud and shout when a Penn State wrestler scores and when they win. If a Penn State wrestler is somehow the underdog, continuous cheering is allowed anytime they are ahead.
  • Only fans younger than 10 years old are allowed to start a “We Are” cheer.

Granted, there are a few more minor unspoken guidelines to be followed, but those are the key ones.

So, imagine everyone’s surprise when just a few months ago music started playing during matches – interrupting that reverent, church-like quiet that has inhabited Rec Hall since time immemorial. A quiet that I always felt was in deference to unbelievable athleticism that was on display in front of me.

Apparently, though, that is not how the guys on the other end of the equation – the wrestlers and coaches – may see or have seen it. 

During a post-dual press conference, Coach Cael Sanderson was asked what he thought the music during the matches added to the wrestlers, and if it was something the team picked up somewhere else. Coach Sanderson responded (edited for length and clarity):

“I just think Rec Hall is awkwardly quiet. We need some noise in there. I did hear a couple people this time; I didn’t last time. I didn’t hear that people were saying turn the music off. If people made more noise we would turn the music off. It’s just so quiet in there you can hear a 4-year-old kid up in the corner yell ‘We are’. And if that’s the case, it’s too quiet. And it’s awkward. This is a sporting event. Let’s make some noise. So, we’re trying to make it less awkward, so you can talk and have a conversation with somebody sitting next to you without everyone in the arena hearing you. The music’s not coming off. We like it; we might crank it up a little bit more.” 

And there’s our challenge!

So, what do we as fans of the greatest wrestling team in the country do to make more noise?

But before we go there, what CAN we do? There must be rules and regulations regarding this sort of thing, or wouldn’t everyone be blasting Black Sabbath at ear-splitting volumes? It turns out the NCAA does have rules about crowd noise and music. From the NCAA’s 2021-22 and 2022-23 Wrestling Rules Book, Rule 1, Section 4, Article 3, states:

Artificial Crowd Noise/Music. Artificial crowd noise and/or music that is amplified by the host game management may be utilized while wrestling is taking place under the following stipulations: 
a. The host game management must ensure the decibel level does not exceed 85 dB;
b. Even when the sound level is at or below 85 dB, the referee shall have the authority to regulate and/or eliminate the artificial crowd noise and/or amplified music in the event they determine that it is interfering with the conduct of the event;
c. Live music, including bands, is not allowed while wrestling is taking place and artificial noise, noisemakers or music, by individuals other than the event management staff, is prohibited; and
d. Conferences are encouraged to approve the crowd noise being used by its institutions.

Well, there we have it. As long as we stay below 85 dB – which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is comparable to city traffic (inside the car) or gas-powered lawnmowers and leaf blowers – we’re all good. No vuvuzelas or cowbells, though. 

I’ll leave the decision on what piped-in music to play to the powers that be in Rec Hall, but as far as we fans go, the obvious choice for us to make noise would be chants and songs. 

Granted, we could use traditional Penn State cheers and songs, but I believe we wrestling fans can be a lot more creative than that. I can envision coming up with chants for each wrestler, maybe attached to recognizable jingles. An example, sung to the Oscar Mayer wiener tune (note: I am not a songwriter or poet):

Our wrestler has a first name, its T-Y-L-E-R
Our wrestler has a second name, its K-A-S-A-K
Oh, we love to watch him golly gee
And if you ask us why you’ll see
‘Cause Tyler Kasak has a way with P-I-N-N-I-N-G

In addition, I think it would be interesting if we started something akin to the Premier League (soccer) in the United Kingdom, where a team’s fans have a song they sing en masse – that usually has nothing to do with soccer or the team.

West Ham fans sing, “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.” Liverpool fans sing, “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” Man City fans sing, “Blue Moon.” All of which have nothing to do with soccer, but create a really cool atmosphere in the stadiums. 

So, what songs have reasonably easy to remember lyrics to, are somewhat cool but unrelated to wrestling, and tuneful (no heavy metal!). In deference to a former Penn State wrestler, I’d suggest, “Walk the Line.” Or, in keeping with popular culture, “Father and Son.” Or maybe we go into the wayback machine for, “Mack the Knife.” Or, “The Weight.” Or just about any Beatles song.

The ultimate point is, Coach Cael has called us out and given us a challenge. We have seven months to figure out how to make more noise in Rec Hall, and as the greatest wrestling fans in the country I know we don’t back down from a challenge – especially one that will help the team. So I look forward to being back in Rec Hall in November and hearing what we’ve got!