Why Penn States Student Section Is the Best

Recently the bleacher report ranked Penn State as the number one student section in the country, and with the Ohio State game coming up I'm sure the student section will be going absolutely crazy. Being in Nittanyville for just one day has made me so fired up for the game, but I wondered what the reason behind people getting so crazy over a game is.

The answer is behind the idea of mob mentality, that for some reason humans will follow the group, even if they are blatantly doing something wrong. The infamous study done that helped prove this theory is Asch conformity experiment where subjects were asked simple questions, with actors in the room. The actors would answer the same way, however their answer would be wrong. The result was that most people would answer with the group and be wrong, rather than be right and be an individual. The most recent study was done by the University of Leeds, who put a group of people in an area to walk around, but gave a special group instructions to walk in a serpentine style. By the end of the experiment 95% of people would follow the leader.

Why is it that we feel the need to be followers instead of leaders? Maybe it is a general lack of confidence that we as humans have, or just a fear of being left out. Both these ideas can be traced deep into the human conscious. No one ever wants to be seen as the weird one who is different from the rest. Even though in elementary school you constantly hear "everyone is unique" or "be who you want to be", but is anyone actually doing that. The problem could also be that as humans we lack confidence in ourselves. For some reason I tend to remember the bad things that happen instead of the good. With more negativity floating around in peoples heads it is no wonder we have a lack of confidence? Could it be another variable, could it be that we are taught not to take chances. People these days are not as risky as they once were. Everyone follows the same path to try and get to a mediocre job. Go to school for 12 years, work hard to get into a good college, graduate, get a job, sit at a desk for 30 years, then retire. People grow up having great dreams and being told they can be whatever they want, yet our schools and parents do not always allow for that. If I wanted to be a baseball player I need to be focusing on baseball, instead of following the safe path my parents want me to take of going to school. Maybe I wanted to be an astronaut, instead of diversifying my education, I should be learning more astronomy and physics. The mob mentality has taken over our lives to the point where the individual has almost disappeared.

The one benefit of the mob mentality however is on a Saturday afternoon when Penn State football is at Happy Valley. The mob mentality allows all 100,000 people to go nuts and be cheering for the best team in college football. Without this mentality the student section would not be as loud as it is, and the home field advantage would be lost. The mob mentality allows everyone to be a little bit crazier because it has become socially acceptable.   


I think mob mentality plays a huge role in large groups such as our famous student section. Personally, I think sports in general are affected by the concept of "all for one, and one for all." When we all pile into the student section of Beaver Stadium, we all know the routines of the different chants, when certain songs are going to be said, and what to respond with when one side screams, "WE ARE!" Not that I would want to go against the grain, but if your in that student section, you are not not going to cheer for our beloved lions. Our student section being the best has been that way for years, and the different tradition and excellent atmosphere continues to be passed down to future generations. I don't think there is going to be a student who stands up and folds his/her arms in protest of wanting to do something different besides participating in Zombie Nation, it is just what we do. Going along with that, when we see that we received the "Best Student Section" in the country from Bleacher Report, it is going to make us keep doing what we are doing because we have been rewarded for our actions. This idea brought me back to my psychology class where if one person sees a friend being rewarded for his/her actions, they will most likely do the same, i.e. cheer like crazy inside Beaver Stadium. I also think there are other factors that could play into why we have received this honor. Everyone knows what has gone on at our school this past year, and everyone has bought in to the "One Team" concept. When we are inside Beaver Stadium on game day Saturdays, we can let out and vent our frustration of all the negative things that have happened to our school and to ourselves. We want to show that we are behind our team no matter what. Did the Bleacher Report article divulges exactly what factors they used to explain why our section is the best, I obviously believe it, but it would be interesting to know what led them to that decision. It is hard to pass up that there are about 108,000 of us going wild nonstop for 3+ hours, something you don't see too often in other stadiums around the country.

There we go, another thing we are #1 at. The idea of herd mentality actually backfires quite often. The most recent example of this on a large scale is the financial crisis. This article discusses how we ditch logic whenever we become uncertain, and all economic models rely almost solely on this assumption that we act with herd mentality. However, there is one particular example where herd mentality has proved to be extremely effective, currency. Currently, the U.S. dollar is really only backed by our faith in it as a society, so without herd mentality, we would probably be forced to get creative with how we conduct trade.

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