Brennan Webb was confident that his school, Frankenmuth (Mich.) High, would win the inaugural Michigan High School Athletic Association's "Battle of the Fans" - which sought to recognize the top cheering sections among MHSAA member schools. "It's what we wanted to do when we started out," says Webb, a senior and one of the leaders of the Frankenmuth cheering section. "We really wanted to be the biggest, the best, the most creative, the loudest, the most outgoing. And that's obviously what we've done now. I could tell since we started doing this last year, people started bringing better student sections to games against us because they knew we were going to bring fans. We influenced all the teams we've played. It's really awesome. You feel good."
A total of 19 schools entered the MSHAA's first-year contest, organized jointly by the state association staff and its 16-member Student Advisory Council. From those, five finalists were chosen, including student sections from Grand Rapids Christian, Petoskey, Reese and Rockford high schools. MHSAA staff and SAC members visited all five for home basketball games during the past five weeks and produced videos of each section for the MHSAA's YouTube channel. A public Facebook vote was conducted last week, and those results were combined with a vote by SAC members to determine the champion. Voting criteria included positive sportsmanship, volume of student section, school spirit, originality of cheers, organization of group and student section leadership. "The Battle of the Fans gave us an opportunity to promote a positive cheering atmosphere, and the fun that can go into creating one," says Andy Frushour, MHSAA's director of brand management and advisor to the Student Advisory Council. "Students typically roll their eyes when we talk about 'sportsmanship.' But this got them talking about it and practicing it. This contest drew submissions from all over the state, and we're excited to see how it grows next year. " Students were invited in December to submit a short video, via YouTube and Facebook, of their cheering sections in action. To view finalists' submissions on YouTube, click here. Video of all five sections will be played on the Breslin Center HD scoreboard during the boys' and girl's basketball finals in March.