By Greg DeVries
College basketball is different than most other sports. Thankfully, we can crown a true national champion when the post-season is all said and done, but this isn’t what makes the sport unique. What truly sets college basketball apart from other sports is the role of the fans.
In football, fans get loud. This causes false starts for the other team based on sheer noise. But in basketball, by virtue of the distance between players and fans, this all changes. The intimacy between fans and players is what makes the college basketball experience different from any other.
Venues are noted for their greatness based on their fans. The best arenas, like Cameron Indoor at Duke, Rupp Arena at Kentucky, and, as much as it pains me to say it, Allen Fieldhouse at Kansas, are defined by their rowdy, and sometimes heartless, student sections.
Baylor doesn’t have this.
When I attended my first basketball game at Baylor, my first thought was quite unsettling. “Where is the student section?” I thought.
The alleged student section is apparently sections 115-119. I did not personally ask each person in these sections if they were students, but I can say with some confidence that there were non-students in these seats.
If Baylor wants to strengthen its student section and overall experience at the Ferrell Center, some changes need to be made.
First, the student section needs to be moved to the center of the baseline. This would be sections 117-121. When you watch college basketball games on TV, students wave their signs during free-throws. Students are only given a little over half of the baseline seating, so a free-throw shooter will only see some of the student section.
Second, a Ferrell Center employee needs to rope off the student section. When a parent, alumni, or other non-student tries to sit in this section, somebody needs to be there to tell them to move to another location.
I understand that problems would arise is taking such measures. The main problem being that people currently own seats in sections 120 and 121. The solution is simple: upgrade their seats. A seat on the sideline is a better seat than on the baseline, even if it is a little farther back.
I think a lot of alumni would be willing to make this change. If I was an alumnus and somebody told me that my seat had been moved so an improved student section could be implemented, I would be happy for the improvement of the Ferrell Center and Baylor basketball as a whole. From a new seat, an alumnus could look over at the student section and smile at the students’ fervor and reminisce about the fun times they had in the student section.
It is no coincidence that the best college programs in the country also have the best student sections. Louder fans help the players. They can feed off of crowd’s energy.
Recruiting will also improve. Imagine telling a high school senior that all of his home games will be played in front of screaming fanatics. Players like when people cheer for them. Why else would anyone commit to A&M?
This may sound harsh, but in terms of home court advantages, the Ferrell Center is weak. Changes need to be made. Baylor students can be loud if they are given the opportunity.
If these changes are made, the Ferrell Center will get louder.
Students are much more likely to stand up and yell when they are next to other boisterous students instead of a family of four. The Bear Pit isn’t enough. Changes need to be made so that students can rise up.
Greg DeVries is a sophomore journalism major from Houston and is a sports writer for the Lariat.