SOMETIMES, we have to go to the extremes of opinion to find a place to meet in the middle to go forward.

That was definitely the case last week when two things happened. The first was the Student Union at the University of Manchester banning clapping, whooping and cheering at events in favour of the silent British Sign Language for this emotion: a wave of both hands.

The idea of jazz hands replacing the far more active and noisy clapping etc was met initially, not just with disdain, but with active disgust by many. Students were accused of being “snowflakes” with over-sensitive feelings and of being unrealistic about the nature of human reaction.

However, a quick look further reveals a cogent argument. The students felt that traditional reactions could cause problems for those with autism, sensory issues or deafness.

So, even if you have none of these issues, there is a case for tempering sharp, loud sounds. Autistic children and adults in particular can be very unnerved by noises like this; their needs should be taken into account.

Should we then ban clapping, whooping and hollering altogether? That is definitely debatable. But, it’s important that we are now having a debate on this and that this may then be taken into account by us all.

The same principle applies to the plan by Hampshire FA to ban parents from shouting from the touchline of football matches. Supporters cheering on their children will have to remain completely silent, forbidden from cheering or haranguing the referee as part of an FA initiative.

Now this one is a bit different because the whole situation involving parents on the touchline has, in some cases, gone completely overboard. There are often instances of parents not only swearing and shouting at the referee but also urging their offspring to “break his legs” or “kick him” to injure the opposition. How can this ever be acceptable?

Having completely silent matches, though, with parents shuffling about on the sidelines is equally unrealistic. Not only would there be a very strange atmosphere indeed but children do respond to support and encouragement – and some rely on it.

I suppose in both instances highlighted it’s really all about self-control and being sensible. We don’t need to shout and scream our appreciation of everything and do need to bear in mind what we’re saying out loud. The reasonable course definitely sounds best.