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Do fans care about UA basketball?


Wildcat File Photo
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Josh McClain

By Josh McClain
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
January 18, 1999
Talk about this story

The much-heralded home court advantage of the Wildcats, the McKale Center, deserves better.

For all the complaining about a student section, UA did not sell out student season tickets this year, the first time in recent memory this has occurred.

That is certainly not befitting a team ranked second nationally.

Take time during the next few weeks to observe another high-profile basketball game such as North Carolina, Florida or Duke. The amount of passion in the fans' hearts is unbelievable, and to view fans in McKale is a let down.

Since the beginning of the 1987-1988 season, the Wildcats have accumulated a 181-10 record at home, including consecutive winning streaks of 71 and 35 games.

Why would Athletic Director Jim Livengood take the time to reward the students when the students don't even take full advantage of the tickets allotted?

Let me explain why UA students will never get a student section with this kind of apathy.

In college athletics money talks, and the Arizona Athletic Department is a separate entity with respect to funds, with all of the money coming from the big sports such as men's basketball and football.

Most of that money comes from the elderly alumni residing in those seats along the court and under the press box at football games.

Although sports are present at the university because of the students, it does not make any sense economically for the Athletic Department to "give" these tickets away when they can easily make hundreds of thousands of dollars off of them.

With all that being said, this season's home games have been embarrassing even by our tame fans' standards.

One needs to only look around at the open seats evident throughout the center this season, and all that whining simply goes in one ear of the Athletic Department and out the other.

One unique tradition to McKale is standing until the opposing squad makes a basket at the beginning of each half.

Sitting on press row, I was absolutely shocked to hear fans actually get excited when UNC-Wilmington made a basket, so they could sit down. This has continued to happen since Pac-10 play kicked off.

In previous years, the crowd would become more and more raucous when defensive studs like Michael Dickerson and Jason Terry would hold teams for several minutes without scoring.

Now fans seem to be bothered when they have to stand for and cheer for a length of time.

Another recent example was against Stanford.

With several seconds remaining, Jason Gardner was forced to ask the referee to make the students stop shaking the arena because it would alter his free throw.

This occurrence could never happen here.

We have a very exciting basketball team, which is just beginning the most difficult stretch of away games it could see all season.

While only playing with seven scholarship players, UA has made both home games close, while raising Coach Olson's stress level.

There is no reason for a quarter of the fans to leave with several minutes to go - as most did against both Washington schools.

Arizona is in the midst of the most difficult road trip of the season, if the Wildcats return victorious, they may have the No. 1 team in the country.

Fans, make the team have a home court advantage, show up wearing red, unite young and old, stand up and cheer for your Wildcats.

You may just be in for a treat.

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