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Ceremony deserves better planning

Observer Viewpoint | Friday, January 23, 2004

Members of the 1973-74 men’s basketball team will be honored on the 30th anniversary of their victory over UCLA that snapped UCLA’s record 88-game winning streak at the men’s basketball game Sunday. Such great Irish players as Dwight Clay, John Schumate and Gary Novak and coach Digger Phelps will be recognized at halftime. These players, coaches and their families will sit in the lower arena of the Joyce Center, in about 70 seats normally occupied by members of the student section.

While coach Mike Brey and the athletic department should be praised for bringing back this great team, the University and athletic office should have found a better place for them to sit. By placing the former players and coaches in the lower arena – and taking seats away from students – the rowdiest Notre Dame students will be farther away from the action on the floor, lessening the “homecourt advantage.” In a place like the Joyce Center where the majority of fans rarely stand and cheer, the students are the most involved fans. Students in the lower seats often wait in line for hours on end to sit close to the court and cheer for the team. But against Kentucky this Sunday – one of the biggest and toughest home games – these die-hard fans will not be near the court.

Even though students may be disappointed they’ll be losing their seats so close to the court, they probably won’t mind that legends will be taking their seats. Still, the University and athletic department should have formulated a solution that gave both these returning greats and the rowdiest students courtside seats to create biggest home court advantage. Next year, it should consider reserving seats at the beginning of the season in section 13 and 16 in the lower arena for returning players and other honored guests, rather than displacing students at select games. But this year, poor planning has not only upset some student basketball fans, but also will hamper rather then help Notre Dame’s home-court advantage against one of the top teams in the country Sunday.