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Basketball deserves support

Staff Editorial | Friday, December 7, 2007

The night before Notre Dame’s March 5, 1977 game against 29-0 San Francisco, coach Digger Phelps spoke to the student section at a pep rally. Phelps suggested the student body replace its traditional “We are,” clap clap, “ND,” chant with “29” clap, clap, “and-1.” clap, clap. The students did as they were told.

From the moment San Francisco entered the Joyce Center, it was greeted with chants of “29 and 1.” Throughout the game, the students kept the noise in the Joyce Center at a deafening level. Soon, the rest of the crowd joined in and willed Notre Dame to a 93-82 victory. The crowd had such a big impact on the game that NBC announcers Dick Enberg and Billy Packer awarded the game MVP to the crowd in the Joyce Center.

Over the past few years, the student section at Notre Dame basketball games displayed that same ability to inspire the players to reach new heights. Last year’s 99-85 win over No. 4 Alabama, when the student section rushed the floor like a rolling tide, showed that the enthusiasm for Notre Dame basketball did not die in the 70s.

But that enthusiasm has failed to show up on a consistent basis.

Unlike football games, when the student section is filled regardless of Notre Dame’s record or quality of opponent, basketball games frequently have hundreds of empty seats in the student section. True, there are more basketball games than football, and the academic demands of Notre Dame often prevent students from making every game, but every student should try to attend this weekend’s game against Northern Illinois. Northern Illinois may not be 29-0 San Francisco, but Notre Dame has a chance to set a record it probably could not reach without the help of the student section – the record for most consecutive home wins.

Students should show up not only to share this special moment with the team, but also to convince Notre Dame’s athletic department that they deserve better seating in the upcoming Joyce Center renovations in 2009.

Coach Mike Brey has repeatedly said he wishes students could sit around the floor like they do at many other major universities around the country, but if the students fail to show up, why shouldn’t the athletic department give those prime seats to paying customers who will attend games?

In order to convince the athletic department that students deserve this privilege, students need to show an appreciation for the history of the program and they need to show up to so-called “cupcake” games early in the year to demonstrate loyalty.

Otherwise, students have nobody to blame but themselves if they’re stuck in the nosebleeds after 2009.