An imposing BYU “Roar of Cougars” ROC student section has become a staple of men’s basketball games at home. Attitudes skeptical of the 2012 student section changes, which included moving the section from mid-court to behind the basket, appear to have rebounded as students continue to have a positive effect on games.
Students originally felt they were being pushed aside to make room for season ticket holders and feared that the new location would disconnect them from their influence on the game, players and opposing team. Current ROC vice president Chad Burton believes that, although the section’s location may not be ideal, the move allows for greater student impact on opposing teams.
“I understand the complaints completely,” Burton said. “It is a worse angle, it’s not a good viewpoint, but personally, I like it. The students have a bigger effect on the game. We noticed this last year that opposing teams shot a lower free-throw percentage when they are on our side of the basket because of our distractions. We’re also right next to their bench, whereas before we were across from them; so as for an influence on the game, and a member of the atmosphere, it’s greatly improved.”
Burton also sees the creation of the ROC as a step to help students fulfill their duty as basketball fans.
“While we are here (at BYU), it’s our job as students to be a part of the university and help the team and atmosphere grow,” Burton said. “We help give our team that home court advantage with our mayhem.”
That mayhem has been one of the goals of the ROC in improving the unity and reputation of the fans. In 2014, thrillist.com ranked BYU No. 14 on its list of 25 best college basketball arenas, writing, “the largest single-bowl venue in college basketball is a truly energizing experience if you head to Provo for a big game.”
Even BYU graduate student Rob Sittman, who attended sporting events at Arizona State University as an undergraduate, sees the variety BYU fans bring to each game compared to other schools.
“Students at BYU are generally more involved in coming to sports than at Arizona State University,” Sittman said. “It seems like a much greater percentage of students go to the games here than at my old school.”
Fan loyalty to the Cougars is repeatedly exhibited as fans attend home games, camp out days in advance for prime seats and lose their voices cheering the team on. That kind of passionate fandom can often foster derogatory behavior in student sections across the country. The ROC, however, aims to provide passionate team support while maintaining respectable behavior.
“We represent a fantastic university supported by our Savior,” Seat said. “We should treat it as such. No bad language, no tearing down opponents or calling them names. BYU fans are about as loyal as they come.”
Burton agrees the ROC should be a place of dignified emotion.
“We want to emphasize bringing the mayhem and being classy about it,” Burton said. “Come, be involved. We need you. Show up, be loud, be crazy, and bring that home-court advantage.”