Hear me now: Move Panther Madness

Recently, this blog pointed out the athletic department’s major oversight of scheduling the Milwaukee Cup match against Marquette up against the biggest non-athletic event of the year, PantherFest.  We’re looking at a similar situation for next week, and now is the time to act.

We Panther fans have long been proponents of bringing back Panther Madness, the season-opening pep rally that gets students excited for basketball a full month before the start of the season.  News from the athletic department is that the event will include a dunk contest, 3-point shooting contest, student vs. chancellor hot shot contest, and the always enticing “more.”  These are all great things, and I’m glad the athletic department is bringing back Panther Madness to reach out to students.

So why is this situation similar to the PantherFest/Milwaukee Cup snafu?  Well, the start time for Panther Madness on Friday is 9 p.m., which begins one hour after the start of the Brewers’ Game 5 of the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Yup.  Should Panther Madness remain on schedule, the Panthers will be going up against the Brewers, who are in the LCS for the first time since 1982, when they were in the ALCS.

Make no mistake.  While Marquette’s student body is made up largely of Chicagoans (about 60%) who are Cubs or White Sox fans, Milwaukee’s student body is absolutely chuck full of Brewers fans.  One of the things we pride ourselves on is being the school with the most Wisconsinites, and the Milwaukee Brewers are Wisconsin’s pro baseball team.

Should the time of Panther Madness not change, the athletic department can expect to put on their big opening pep rally in front of a gaggle of maybe 100 students, most of whom will be checking their smart phones for the Brewers’ score.

As I always do, I offer a solution: move the scheduled start time back, from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m.  Midnight.  How about that, Midnight Madness for real.

This is what needs to happen for multiple reasons:

Madness at Midnight is what made it great in the first place.  When Lefty Driesell started the practice at Maryland back in the early seventies, the reason it got so big was because it happened so late at night.  A major campus event taking place at midnight?!  It was such a big success that nearly every program holds it nowadays, a much better way to welcome fans to the new season and new team than a crappy exhibition game against Concordia that carries no fanfare at all.

A lot of programs moved it up to prime time, because it allows them to include all fans, the young included, and a later benefit was getting it on television.  We’re not putting Midnight Madness on TV, and even more importantly, this event is for the students – any fans among the alumni and community that come are just gravy.  Every part of the action should be directed at the students, because this is their event.  And being loud and proud at midnight is something students will get behind.

– Stay away from the Crew. Without football in this city, the Brewers are king.  And as such, going up against their first LCS in 30 years is a terrible idea.  It’s so bad that moving the event back a few hours just a week in advance is the best thing you can do.  Change the time, make it MIDNIGHT.

If you want them to show up, you have to make sure you’re not up against the Brewers.  In fact, the school should be catering to students and getting them to show up by putting up multiple projectors to show the game live in the Klotsche Center, so they’re there and in their seats when the game is over.  Have the band there and ready to play by the end of the game, and you can seamlessly get into Midnight Madness.

– Separate from Marquette. The Golden Eagles are putting their show on at 7 p.m., which will be nice to get on the 10 o’clock news but goes up against the Brewers game.  Does it matter? No.  The Golden Eagles’ student body is made up largely of Cubs fans from the Chicago area, so there’s no need to move so they can see a game between two teams they hate.

This also allows any casual fans, however few they are, to see something truly vintage – Madness at Midnight.

The fact is, you’re handicapping Panther Madness by putting it up against the Brewers.  By moving it back to midnight and ushering students to watch the game on giant big screens in the Klotsche Center, you’re catering to them, and making sure they’re in their seats right away when the basketball gets kicked off.  It creates an atmosphere where the Brewer game is nice, but the real show, the main event is to follow the game.

Prop them up with free pizza (students love free pizza) and soda and let them watch the Brewers hopefully crush the Cardinals.  It’s something that needs to be done if Panther Madness is to be any kind of success.

But you have to act, and you have to act now.  Because the students need as much time as possible to make them aware of the time change and that there is a huge Brewers party going on in the arena right before Panther Madness.

If the athletic department chooses to sit on their hands and roll the dice, they’re going to be very disappointed at the turnout.  The Brewers aren’t Lupe Fiasco – who knows when they’ll be in the LCS again.

The truth is, going up against the Brewers is the wrong kind of madness.

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