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Why Do Athletes Scream?

By: Blake Blondeel

Listen. Can you hear it? It’s the sound of screaming. It’s coming from Lancers athletics.

Have you ever been to a varsity game and wondering what the hell all the commotion is about? From the parents screaming in the crowd, to an athlete rebounding over their opponent, screaming is happening in sport all the time these days. But why? Why do coaches scream? Why does the volleyball teams scream, seemingly at no one, every time they win a point? What’s with all the screams of “Gosh darn!” or words to that effect, after missed assignments? And my personal favourite, why are athletes screaming at each other?

When I first got the idea to write about this I was sitting at a Lancers Women’s volleyball game as they hosted the Guelph Gryphons and after every point, they screamed as if it was the last point they ever get. The pure ghastly sound of their celebrations made my bones chill. My curiosity is piqued. Was this out of strategy? Or excitement? I had to find out.

Emily McCloskey, the Women’s Volleyball captain, described the screaming as a way to keep going.

“We play to 25 points and it can get exhausting at times. It sucks when we lose a point, the other team gets amped up and gains momentum,” McCloskey said. “Screaming brings our energy levels up. Every point means something in our game and every time we get a point it’s one closer to winning that game.”

It seems these vocal outbursts occur for two reasons. One, to swing momentum in their favour and two, celebrate successes. With that being said, screaming can be good in the business of physically exerting yourself in the sport of volleyball but what about others.

Lancer Football didn’t have the best of seasons and the coaches may have been justified screaming till they were red in the face and about to pass out.  Trust me, as an elite athlete, coaches always seem to get their point across. This fight or flight behaviour comes off clearly when a coach is asking more out of you or to pack it up for the night. It’s out of sheer passion for the game.

Emotions can boil over at a moment’s notice – some of them honest and born of the moment, some of them premeditated.

In hockey, Lancers forward Kyle Hope loves to scream. He screams in warm-ups, from the bench, at players, and at referees. Sometimes he screams too much.  I wish I had a muzzle for him. But for Hope, these aren’t screams of a madman; these are screams of strategy, to physically, and psychologically destabilize the opponents.

“I found out that screaming is a part of my game, it’s what wakes me up and get me more involved, plus I have fun doing it,” Hope said.

For Hope, screaming gives a sense of heightened awareness and conveys danger, instilling fear into his opponents. Could this be why Lancer athletes are screaming all the time?

It’s something that has trickled down from professional sport all the way down to the youth level. It’s a way to express oneself, improve abilities, and quite possibly the outcome of the game.

Like any sport, any team can win on any given night. Is screaming one part of a larger, subtler strategy of winning or is it part of the emotive nature of sports? There’s so much going on out there, but screaming lets it all hang out, it’s cathartic, primal release gets the job done.


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