There has been a growing debate on campus starting last semester and continuing this spring. It has led to university officials becoming involved, some of the student body has sparked tempers and there are rumors of a certain organization packing its bags and calling it quits.
Couch Cru, long-time favorite group which supports sports teams with such dedication, has received some harsh ridicule in the past several months.
At least two issues have caught the eye of some of the staff of the school including Vice President for Student Life, Dr. Byron Weathersbee.
The first is the lack of students who have been attending some of the sporting events, especially the basketball games. The second is the confrontation that has been started between students and what some consider cheering and what some consider crossing the lines in regard to heckling.
A defensive end for the football team is junior Zach Dunnam. As an athlete for the school he enjoys everything the Couch Cru has to bring to the football games.
“I like them heckling the other team. It might sound bad, but I want the Couch Cru to get into the other team’s head,” he said. “It’s so loud sometimes that I can’t even hear our own plays, but I like that. I may mess up, but I like them being so loud.”
Dunnam remembers his freshman year and how packed the arena would be at the Cru basketball games. He would see the student section swamped with 100 plus students, but that’s not what anyone sees any more.
“Now there’s five to 10 people in the Couch Cru section at the games. I would love to see more people over there,” he said.
However, there are a handful of who disagree with what the Couch Cru does and how they act with the opponents.
Senior Lauren Allen is among those who don’t agree with the group.
“I disagree with the way they go about supporting the UMHB teams,” Allen said. “They bash the other teams. I know that is a part of sports, but when you start getting in arguments with other UMHB students, nothing is accomplished, and it makes people not respect the captains.”
Allen realizes that people, particularly the Couch Cru, simply love supporting their team, but she thinks there is a line that can be crossed in the fans’ world.
“Not everyone wants to yell and scream. Some people just simply want to watch the game,” she said.
This year, senior Garrett Smith was the Couch Cru captain when his job earned a lot of ridicule. Trouble with the administration and students was just the tip of the iceberg for Smith, but he remained dedicated to supporting the Crusader sports teams despite many tribulations.
He hopes that in the future the student body can cheer together at games harmoniously and not bicker about what is right and wrong.
“Couch Cru is also here to increase student enthusiasm, so it is unreasonable for anyone to disagree with our motives,” he said.
Smith goes on to say that the group is here to aide the athletes that take there time to play sports for the school.
“We are here to help our university, not hurt it. If anyone is truly hurting our university in all of this, it’s the students who complain about our spirit instead of contributing to it.”
But is it only about dogging on the other team? One of the main reasons fans go to a sporting event is to help out their own team, not to belittle the opponent.
Head football Coach Pete Fredenburg thinks that both the Couch Cru and his team embrace each other in a good way.
“The Couch Cru has really developed a home field advantage for us, and they really do a nice job of staying involved,” he said.
Going to a Christian school, there are boundaries one can cross when they yell, heckle or ridicule the other team. But finding those boundaries can be troublesome.
Fredenburg talks about one of the most Christian men he knows, but who is also one of the most fierce sport spectators he has ever met.
“I think Dr. Bawcom is as good a Christian man as I know, but I also think he is one of the most radical fans that I know. I love that,” he said.
Smith wants the upperclassmen to remember how Couch Cru acted a couple
of years ago when Tatenda Tavaziva and Dawson Barksdale were the captains.
“The very few dedicated fans we still have are some of the best fans I’ve ever seen, and to accuse this Couch Cru of setting a non-Christ like example is clearly not paying close enough attention to what we do,” Smith said.
Trying to ease some of the tension concerning the views of how a Christian should act or how they shouldn’t act, Fredenburg looks at a bigger picture.
“Christians have emotions and Christians have likes and dislikes. None of us are without sin, and none of us are without faults,” he said.
He thinks everyone should get excited by supporting their teams and that it’s disheartening for students to angry.
“Getting excited about your team is good; I think you can cross a line, but you can cross a line with anything,” Fredenburg said. “But to say you
can’t be enthusiastic and come to a game and be loud because we are in a Christian environment is awful.”