There’s a whole lot to expect when you go to a professional basketball game. For one, you can expect the crowd to cheer for the home team when they perform well. Sounds like a given, right? Also, you can expect the home team to do a whole lot of activities to try and get you more engaged. Some of these include throwing t-shirts into the crowd, mascot skits, halftime shows, and dancers during timeouts. From time to time, chants ring out. The 2019 NBA Eastern Conference Champion Toronto Raptors have a traditional chant and being a good fan often involves participating in it.
Let’s go Raptors 👏 👏 👏 👏 👏
Let’s go Raptors 👏 👏 👏 👏 👏
Let’s go Raptors 👏 👏 👏 👏 👏
Chants can start by a small collection of fans. The chant starts off small and then spreads to the entire building. Kind of like the wave! Other chants are prompted by the team’s game day crew. Prompts may come in the form of a message on the video board or an ask from an emcee or public address announcer.
Actually, most NBA teams have emcees. As a matter of fact, most have two. One male and one female. They take turns on the mic. As soon as the gates open, the camera follows them. So before the game, at stoppages (timeouts) during the game and at halftime, you’ll see the emcees on the video board. They narrate and sequence pre- and in-game promotions and activities to get you engaged.
The Toronto Raptors Emcees
The Toronto Raptors emcees are Mark Strong and Kat Stefankiewicz. Mark Strong is a former radio host and Kat Stefankiewicz was a member of the team’s dance crew. They are likely told what to say and do by the team’s game day operations manager.
Activity before tip off
One of their recent routines has caught the attention of Raptors fans. Before playoff home games, Mark and Kat appear on the video screen and lay down the rules on how to be a good Raptors fan.
The first time is about 15 minutes before tip off. Then it’s done again with less than 2 minutes before tip off. Believe it or not, this has some fans irked.
Fans are asked to give their attention to the video screen for a lesson on how to be a good Raptors fan.
Mark Strong starts off with, “The game is about to start. Okay Scotiabank Arena. We want to make sure we’ve got all the rules down first.”
So what are the rules for being a good Raptors fan according to the team?
In the words of Mark Strong, here are the rules for being a good Raptors fan at Scotiabank Arena.
Sing it loud and sing it proud. You guys gotta get loud so I’m glad we got that out of the way.
Wear your t-shirt
First of all, everybody make sure you put on your playoff tees right now (WE THE NORTH), because we want the Raptors to know that we are with them all night long. We need to rock the Raptors pride.
Be part of the moment
Also, be part of the game whether it’s free throws, get nice and loud out there.
Stand for tip off
Don’t forget to stand up when it comes to the tip off. We want to be standing with the Raptors at jump ball.
Light up the North
And if you don’t already have your cell phones out, get them out right now because we’re about to light up the north in about 60 seconds.
Chant, Chant, Chant
And lastly CHANT, CHANT, CHANT. We want you to share in this with us right now and let everyone know that THIS IS OUR HOUSE. So we want you let the world know if you’re ready that THIS IS OUR HOUSE. Let’s go! Say ittttttttttttt. This is OUR HOUSE.
Controversy about the rules of being a good Raptors fan
As you know, the Toronto Raptors players and coaching staff adjusted mightily in the Eastern Conference Finals from back to back road losses in Game 1 and 2. Game 3, 4, 5 and 6 were very different due to those adjustments. Had they not adjusted, they would not have won 4 games in a row and made it to the NBA Finals.
Games 3, 4 and 6 were hosted in Toronto. In Games 3 and 4, the ground rules were presented in the same way. However, likely as a result of feedback from fans, the Raptors game day crew changed things up in Game 6.
National Anthem Rule Scrapped
In Game 6, how to be a good Raptors fan did not include anything about the Canadian national anthem. Probably a good idea given all the national anthem controversies that have transpired over the years. Also, it’s not likely a good idea to tell all people to stand up. Doing so could could be prejudice to those who have a disability and may not be able to stand.
“Chant, Chant, Chant” Changed
In addition, they went back to the Raptors traditional “Let’s Go Raptors” chant. “This is Our House” was scrapped from the docket.
This is a photo of Raptors emcee Mark Strong stating the CHANT, CHANT, CHANT rule in Game 4. Recall that the chant was “This is Our House”. Take a look at the disinterest in the fans!
Mark Strong said this instead in Game 6 for the CHANT, CHANT, CHANT rule:
“But before we do that, I think it’s time to do a chant right now. And maybe we’ll go with “Let’s Go Raptors” this time. Let’s hear youuuuuu… One more time……”
Look at the difference in fan reaction and enthusiasm. Wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy better!
Why did the game day crew change the chant from “This is Our House” to “Let’s Go Raptors”. Two possible reasons are explained below.
It seemed contrived
Some Raptors fans complained that the “This is Our House” chant was condescending. They rationed that the fans know where they are. The players, coaches and fans alike know that they are at home in Toronto.
One fan in particular asked, “Why does Mark Strong have to yell at us to cheer and give us rules on how to cheer in the Eastern Conference Finals?”
Another fan stated, “Let’s Go Raptors is just naturally what people chant at home games. The attempt to have us chant ‘This is Our House’ is just not what we’ve ever done. Plus it began in American arenas. It’s not even our idea. So lame. So why would we start chanting something new now?”
Contrary to this belief, the “This is Our House” chant rung out at a Raptors game 11 years ago. But in this fan’s defense, “This is Our House” is rarely an chant started by fans at Raptors home games. “Let’s Go Raptors” rings out time and time again. And often times without any prompt from the game day crew.
Lack of crowd support
Mark Strong tries with all his might to muster crowd support for the “This is Our House” chant. To no avail. Raptors fans are simply not into it. You can clearly see fans are disengaged and not interested in reciprocating his enthusiasm.
Sometimes you have to go with traditions. Especially when there’s an already established fan base. Preparing a game day operations plan is kind of like figuring out how much to water your grass. How much water is too much? You may also wonder, “How much water is too little?”
Sometimes it’s better to let the rain do the work. Similarly, letting fans dictate chants is more than enough water needed. If the weather is optimal, the grass will grow just fine. If watered too much, the grass will become annoyed. Much like an over-watered grass, fans can become annoyed if the game day crew doesn’t let things happen naturally. Especially in the playoffs. That’s why the “This is Our House” chant did not work.
There likely won’t be a need to initiate chants on Thursday as the Raptors play their first ever NBA Finals game at Scotiabank Arena.