There is something that has been on my mind a lot over the offseason. In between the long hours of discussing our rotation and the rotations and schedules of other Horizon League teams, I’ve been thinking of a way to get the fans more involved and interested from their seats in the arena. The atmosphere in the stands is too much like a library for me to want to spend the season with all you old fogies, so I’m going to make a simple request to try and make it easy to transition from an audience at an interpretive dance performance to a college basketball fan base.
I’m not asking you all to become like me. Good lord I don’t think that’s a good idea at all. But I would like to request that you all take a small step toward becoming an energetic and engaged crowd:
Stand, clap and cheer. Not the entire game, or most of the game, half the game or even a quarter of the game. I don’t mean for this to become Mass, where we’re standing up and sitting down just for the sake of standing up and sitting down. But I think there are a few points in the game besides the waning seconds where we need to be out of our seats and clapping.
At four points during the game, I’d like every reader of PantherU and fanatic of our basketball program to find themselves standing and becoming a more engaged member of the fan base.
1. To begin the game. Traditionally, we’ve begun the game with a rendition of the fight song. In the past, the Fight Song has been overplayed. That was fixed somewhat last year, and I understand that its frequency has been a deterrent from joining the clapping students. But this point, at the beginning of the game, is most important. It shows that the fans are behind the team, not just here to act like we’re sitting on the couch. Clap along with the Fight Song, sing the words if you know them (yes, I know, do it), and stay standing through the opening tip until the Panthers score their first basket. Encourage those around you to do the same. It’s not a major inconvenience to stand and cheer the team to their first basket of the game. I saw this first at Bradley University in the Bracket Buster game from a few years ago and saw that those who did it were more engaged in the game as it went along. We need to adopt this, because it’s a baby step towards what we need to be, a fully engaged and collegiate fan base. It’s the most important because it sets the tone. If you don’t want to do it and decide you need to sit and be quiet, then you’re going to do it for the rest of the game. If you’re up and cheering and clapping with the Fight Song, you are setting the stage to do it again and are making it OK for the people around you to do the same.
2. To close the first half and open the second. When our team is leaving the court or coming back, we need to be on our feet to send them off or bring them back in. It’s the standing ovation that our team deserves and they need to feel our energy to keep their spirits high if times are good or bad.
3. At the final media timeout of each half. For those of you who don’t know, the media timeouts happen at four-minute intervals throughout the game. Every four minutes, the first dead ball brings about a media timeout. So, once the four minute mark happens in each half, I’d like for the Panthers in the stands to stand and cheer the team.
4. The Final minute. This is important, especially if we’re winning. You get the stretch you need before you leave the gym, but really you set up the crowd to be together as a group before we part for another day.
I believe this is important to do because we want several things. One, we want our fan base to be engaged because being engaged means louder cheers, better sound, and a more intimidating atmosphere for the opponent. Two, we want to create a tradition around our program because tradition is something that college athletics has in spades and we don’t have much of outside of Engelmann Stadium. Finally, we need this to happen because it engages the casual fans attending the game to involve themselves in our “traditions” and indoctrinates them to become return customers.
So please, this Saturday at 1 p.m., do not sit down after introductions. Stay standing through the Star Spangled Banner, introductions, opening tip, all the way to the first basket. Nothing special, just standing and cheering the team to get the first monkey of the game off their back. And please, encourage those around you to do it as well.