By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Battle of the Fans VIII semifinalists: The spotlight is all yours.
You have 12 days to show the MHSAA's Student Advisory Council why your section is a must-see on this year's BOTF finalists tour.
This year’s nine semifinalists are Petoskey, Saginaw Heritage and Traverse City West from Class A; Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard, Buchanan and Wayland from Class B; and Carson City-Crystal, North Muskegon and Petersburg-Summerfield from Class C/D.
Battle of the Fans VIII, organized by MHSAA staff and its 16-member Student Advisory Council, kicked off by inviting schools to submit short videos, via YouTube, of their cheering sections in action by Jan. 13. The Advisory Council has selected nine semifinalists to accomplish a list of tasks showing off their sections over the next 12 days – and the Council will then select three finalists for MHSAA visits.
This year’s winner will be announced Feb. 22 and recognized March 15 during the MHSAA Boys Basketball Semifinals at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center.
Semifinalists are required to complete 10 challenges via their social media channels by 11 p.m. on Jan. 26. Five mandatory challenges focus on contest criteria: positive sportsmanship, student body participation, school spirit, originality of cheers, organization of the group, student section leadership and overall fun.
Five elective challenges (taken from a list of 15 opportunities) will allow semifinalists opportunities to show the unique characteristics that make their sections elite. Click to see descriptions of all 20 challenges on MHSAA.com.
“We’re basically in the ‘Regional’ round now, if you compare this competition to our other tournaments. And these nine challengers are just getting warmed up as they prepare to make a run at earning one of the three finalists visits,” said Andy Frushour, MHSAA director of brand management and advisor to the Student Advisory Council. “The next two weeks should be a lot of fun as we follow these student sections on social media. We’re looking forward to seeing their creativity and positivity.”
The Student Advisory Council will select the finalists for announcement Jan. 28 on the MHSAA Second Half website. MHSAA staff and Student Advisory Council members will visit all three finalists for home basketball games during the second half of this regular season, with coverage and video from those visits and the announcement of the winner all to be published on Second Half.
The winner will be selected by another Advisory Council vote based in part on support each section receives on the MHSAA’s social media sites. All social media postings regarding Battle of the Fans VIII should include the hashtag #BOTF. The MHSAA will share semifinalists’ challenge posts over the next two weeks on its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram sites and Snapchat feed. The MHSAA also will post from the three finalists visits on those channels.
A total of 20 schools applied for this year’s contest, including six schools for the first time to bring the total to 97 member schools that have applied for the contest at least once over its eight-year existence. Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard is the only school that has applied all eight years.
Also among semifinalists, Buchanan and Traverse City West both have applied six times and Petoskey has applied five. Saginaw Heritage and Wayland are three-time applicants that made it past the first round this year for the first time, and North Muskegon has made it past the first round for the first time in its second attempt. Carson City-Crystal and Petersburg-Summerfield were among first-time applicants.
The other first-time applicants were Allendale, Chesaning, Niles and Oxford. “The addition of a number of new participants this year made the competition even more exciting,” Frushour added.
Buchanan is the reigning BOTF champion. “The Herd” also won BOTF II in 2013 and made the finals in 2014 and 2015.
Traverse City West earned the BOTF title in 2016 and was a finalist in 2014 and 2017 and a semifinalist last year, while Petoskey was a finalist in 2012, 2017 and 2018. Father Gabriel Richard made the finals in 2013.
Click to view all applications on YouTube.
The contest is sponsored in part by the United Dairy Industry of Michigan, which promotes Michigan's locally-produced dairy products and nutrition education. Rules plus links to past years’ coverage of the contest can be found on the MHSAA #BOTF webpage.
The Student Advisory Council is made up of eight seniors and eight juniors who each serve two-year terms. The Council acts as the voice of Michigan's student-athletes; it serves as a student sounding board for the MHSAA's Representative Council, assists in planning Sportsmanship Summits, Captains Clinics and other student leadership events; participates in a yearly focus group about the state of high school sports for Michigan State University's Institute for the Study of Youth Sports and assists with medal ceremonies at MHSAA championship events.