Well, I guess we got what we wanted.
First and foremost, there was never any reason to shout things at the band. They all work incredibly hard and are as dedicated to UConn as anybody. They were just doing their job, and they’re pretty good at it, too (especially you, tuba dude).
The athletic director had something in mind when he made his decision. His only goal was to enhance the student fan experience, to get us louder and rock Gampel with passion. Regardless of what’s happened, all the attention is back on us; as students, as fans, our teams are counting on us to be there for them. So let’s do it.
Sometimes it’s hard to get excited when the quality isn’t there. Sometimes it isn’t worth driving to the Rent if we’re not going to score a touchdown. Sometimes it’s hard to get out to Gampel and watch us start out 0-2 when finals week is fast approaching. But just as all of us committed to this university one, or two, or four years ago, we also have a commitment to support those who work tirelessly to wear a Husky uniform with pride.
It’s been hard watching our student section change over the past few years. Take a look at Duke, or UNC, or Kentucky. Their student sections seem to work in a glorious mesh of organized chaos; people with faces painted for even the most insignificant games, jumping around and nearly falling over each other, going along with the band and only looking at their phones to check the time.
Here at UConn, we love to think that our student section is one of the best. That’s not to say we’re any less passionate than other schools, but lately we sure have had a hard time showing it. Only a few rows of people are ever constantly (and I stress constantly) engaged at basketball games, not to mention that the upper level is completely separated from all of the action down below, purely by the nature of how Gampel is designed, and it’s hard to overcome that. During every timeout and every break, all we do is take out our phones and check texts from Mom. But why? Why should we give the other team a chance to reset and relax when they’re in OUR house?
The last thing we want to do is make them comfortable. The band should be allowed to play during every second of a timeout, and we should all be singing along. There is no need for all this commercialization, for “Get Lucky” to play on the loudspeakers while we wait for commercial break to end. Our opponent is in Connecticut, the basketball capital of the world, home of 21 national championships across all sports, and we should always be reminding them of that.
Cohesiveness in the student section is scarce; and it’s okay if every single person doesn’t want to constantly be jumping around. But that’s what we do here. We’re all students, we all showed up to any given game for a reason and we should be working together to make it as loud and as rowdy as possible.
Last week, I said that the reason nobody was coming out was because the quality of our schedule wasn’t there. But we can’t change the conference we’re in; not now, not anytime soon. Better games are coming to schedules soon, but unfortunately for many, remnants of the old Big East are still fresh in memories. We crave basketball games against Louisville and Villanova, for example. And maybe DePaul was never any good, but they beat us that one time so we hate them, and we want that back.
But we just can’t have it right now. And the fervor that once was may be lost; we could play non-conference games against Louisville, but there’s no telling how strange it may or may not feel knowing the significance is less. But the one thing that has remained constant is the passion we all have for UConn. We didn’t choose to come to this school for no reason. We love this university, and we must always show that to our sports teams, who work night and day to represent UConn in a positive light, no matter how great or bad they are performing.
But now it’s up to us. We have to go out there and support our teams—ALL of our teams. That means field hockey, that means women’s soccer, that means women’s basketball. Sure, everybody will be packed in tonight for the Baylor game, but what about when our Huskies take on an unranked team? For everything that Geno and company have given to our university, we might want to give some of that love and dedication back no matter how many points we win by.
After Monday’s loss to Northeastern, Kevin Ollie waited almost an hour before he came and spoke with the media. He wasn’t outwardly angry, but he was so distraught that he called it “embarrassing.” But he also said that it was time for a gut check; it was time for the team to look in the mirror and remind themselves why they do what they do, to find their inner toughness despite the turmoil and push through it.
Maybe we ought to do the same. Because UConn fans are some of the most passionate, humorous and exciting fans across the nation. A lot of the reason I love UConn in the first place is because the athletics program and the love our fans have for our sports is something I can’t get enough of. I know it’s there, and we all know that it’s there. But we can all admit that we can do a better job of showing it.
So let’s make Gampel rock. Let’s pack the Rent. Let’s fill the seats at XL. It’s a little too late to watch our women’s soccer and field hockey teams in action here, but follow their progress and know where they’re at, because they’re going places. Even if teams are struggling, let them know that UConn Nation has their backs no matter what. We owe it to them.