By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
It's become a winter tradition; as the Michigan weather gets frosty, high school gyms all over our state heat up in anticipation of competition both on the floor and in the stands as well.
And so the scene is set for the "Battle of the Fans VI," the MHSAA Student Advisory Council's annual contest to award the top high school student cheering section in Michigan.
Traverse City West was named last year’s champion and presented with a banner during the MHSAA Boys Basketball Finals at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center. Sections from Charlotte, Munising, Muskegon Western Michigan Christian and Yale also were finalists and recognized during the Breslin ceremony.
Schools are invited to submit a short video, via YouTube, of their cheering sections in action. Video submissions should be between 90 seconds and three minutes long and explain how that section meets the following contest criteria: positive sportsmanship, student body participation, school spirit, originality of cheers, organization of the group, student section leadership and fun.
The deadline for student-submitted video applications is noon Jan. 7. Five finalists including at least one Class C or D school then will be chosen and visited on a home game night by MHSAA staff and Advisory Council representatives. The MHSAA will produce a video of that finalist after each visit, with the champion being selected by the Student Advisory Council based in part on activity on the MHSAA’s social media sites.
This year’s winner will be announced Feb. 17 and recognized March 24 at the Breslin Center.
“Five years of Battle of the Fans have created standards and expectations not only for this contest, but for student section sportsmanship overall,” said Andy Frushour, MHSAA director of brand management and advisor to the Student Advisory Council. “We’ve written about the best and the lessons they’ve taught us. We’ve shown videos of their work to students all over the state. Battle of the Fans has proven that school student sections can create a positive atmosphere and still have fun. We see it over and over again, and this year gives us another chance to see more fun student sections in action.”
Rules, directions for submitting videos, plus links to coverage of finalists from the first five years of the contest can be found on the MHSAA Website. This year’s finalist videos, plus the announcement of the 2016-17 winner, will be published on the MHSAA Second Half.
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.
PHOTO: Representatives from Traverse City West's "Bleacher Creatures" accept the Battle of the Fans championship banner in March at the Breslin Center.