'Battle of the Fans' Seeks Top High School Cheering Section

Who says school spirit is dead? Not students at the five Michigan high schools that have made it to the finals of that state's inaugural "Battle of the Fans." Developed by the Michigan High School Athletic Association, the contest seeks to recognize the top student cheering section in the state. Organized by MHSAA staff and its 16-member Student Advisory Council, it will reward the section that best exemplifies the positive and festive atmosphere created when students show enthusiasm, unity and sportsmanship while rooting for their school's basketball teams.

"The Student Advisory Council decided to put its primary focus this fall on a sportsmanship campaign that would engage and motivate student cheering sections throughout the state," says Andy Frushour, council advisor and MHSAA's director of brand management. "We're thrilled with the level of participation."

In December, schools were invited to submit a short video of their basketball cheering sections in action, via YouTube and Facebook. Video submissions also included explanations of how each student section meets the following contest criteria: positive sportsmanship, sound volume, school spirit, originality of cheers, organization of the cheering section members and student section leadership. A total of 19 schools from every region in the state submitted videos by the deadline earlier this month. From those, student cheering sections from Frankenmuth, Grand Rapids Christian, Petoskey, Reese and Rockford high schools were selected based on a vote by the Student Advisory Council.

MHSAA staff and Student Advisory Council members will visit all five finalists for home games during the second half of this regular season and produce videos from each stop on their tour. Those videos will be posted to the MHSAA's "Battle of the Fans" Facebook page, and an online vote scheduled for Feb. 20 to 23 will help determine the winner, which will be announced Feb. 24. Additionally, video featuring all five finalists will be played on the scoreboard during the boys' and girls' basketball finals at Michigan State's Breslin Center in March.

To view the submitted videos of the five finalists, click here.

"We're having a lot of fun with it," says Geoff Kimmerly, media and content coordinator for the MHSAA. "So far, we haven't heard of any other state association conducting a similar contest. But I imagine it's an idea that could catch on quickly. It seems every school - large, small and in between - has a student cheering section. ['Battle of the Fans' provides] an excellent opportunity to involve a number of students all over the state while promoting sportsmanship and a festive, positive cheering atmosphere."

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