“HEY NUMBER 22!”: A glance into sideline heckling and how players, coaches, fans react


Kelsey Atcheson

DAB IT OUT: CHS students cheer at the varsity football game against Hamilton Southeastern. Student groups like Big Game and Wild Bunch assist in planning student section events.

For many athletes, talking trash is just a way to blow off steam. Others use it to throw their opponents off their game.

“(Trash talking is) the ability to get in someone’s head.” said Sam Weixler JV football player and sophomore.

Weixler said he experiences trash talking first-hand on the field.

“It’s a sign of confidence or overconfidence,” said Weixler. “I’ve played games that prove if you get in your opponent’s head, they can easily make unforced errors. Often times, that’s what can win you the game.”


It’s not only players that see and hear trash talking. According referee William Debois, who officiates soccer games around Indianapolis, said. “Competition brings out the best and worst in
people. It’s part of the game, but there is a grey line,” Debois said.

While coaches or school districts may offer policies for athletes to follow, the IHSAA sanctions all high school sports in the state and provides a single rule when referring to trash talking. According to the IHSAA website, “verbal harassment or derogatory remarks directed toward an opponent or official” are banned from all activities.

It’s a hard rule to enforce – especially at the high school level.

“No policy can change how the game is played,” Weixler said. “We’ve come to understand that teams will trash talk CHS because of our reputation. Sometimes that thing can be hard to shake off during the game, but you have to handle it and stay cool.”

Staying cool isn’t always easy for young players though. High intensity rivalries only intensify as the school year kicks off and regular seasons begin. “It’s always tough to see players crossing the line,” Weixler said. “A line has been crossed when someone attacks something other than an opposing team or player.”

At the end of the day, “Trash talking does not decide the winner,” Weixler said. “The confidence isn’t intimidating. Coach makes our game speak for itself.”