Last week, the Atlanta Falcons sent me a request. It wasn't a season ticket renewal - not just yet, but it'll be on the way soon for sure. No, this one, for once, wasn't about a financial commitment. They wanted a full-throated vocal one. Me and about 70,000 others. The target was for the Georgia Dome's collective screams to reach 115 decibels, waking the Richter scale on this side of the country.
Sure, it was contrived. We were prompted to yell by a big screen. But as the meter slowly crept into the red zone, symbolizing the earth-shaking promised land, it got me thinking. Why can't we enhance the atmosphere at our high school games? We desperately need that kind of energy, something to get the crowd going, to get people out of their seats and having fun.
Been to a basketball game this season? The lowdown: PG-rated hip-hop tunes during pre-game and halftime. Cheerleader teams politely swap slogans. Players methodically go about business, only rousing spectators with the occasional sublime feat. Otherwise it's flat. No chanting. No hollering. And mom in the corner reading a Danielle Steele novel.
I'm not suggesting schools spend money. Every school has bright minds wishing to be bold; it's how teenagers work. So why not have them come up with the solutions? The project: no money and we want a full, noisy arena. After all, the cost of the Falcons' gimmick was just an e-mail. It can't be too difficult to replicate the gesture, even without a gargantuan screen.
There could be singing sections. More color. Noise makers. And these are quick brain-stormers; the kids could come up with more pertinent ones. Get the technology-focused students on board too. Hook up a laptop to the sound system and you have a new world of sounds and limitless audible possibilities.
If people have fun they'll come back. They'll also bring others. With a full house offering vocal backing, players will feel energized and confident. Entertainment will be restored, and revenue will follow. We just need someone to stand up. Then we'll all be heard.