Though basketball is the most popular sport at Binghamton University, the student turnout at games is abysmal.
Attendance in the men’s first game of the season has declined steadily in the last several years, with this year’s opening day crowd being around 700 people thinner than last year’s and missing 1,000 when compared to the first game of 2016. Basketball is arguably the second most popular college sport overall, behind football. BU doesn’t have a football team, but our basketball programs have fared decently during the school’s Division I era. Students should take advantage of their free entry into basketball games and make an effort to attend games this season.
The Binghamton women’s basketball team won its season opener this week, following up a historic season last year in which the program recorded 20 wins and qualified for the Women’s Basketball Invitational. It has a new coach, Bethann Shapiro Ord, who did wonders for Weber State’s women’s basketball team, bringing a team with only 10 wins in three years to one with the highest win total in program history. Any efforts Shapiro Ord makes here would be bolstered by a larger and more dedicated fan base cheering her squad on.
Both the women’s and men’s teams have up-and-coming players this season. Even though the men’s team lost its home opener, it is easy to tell that this year’s roster is promising. Freshman guard Sam Sessoms scored 27 points in his debut game, and is tied for the most points scored by a BU freshman in his first college game since 2011, when Ben Dickinson also scored 27 points. The crowd was electrified; the spectators were thrilled by Sessoms’ mesmerizing crossovers and step-back 3-pointers. Despite the absence of key players such as senior forward Thomas Bruce, who is out with an injury, the team was able to hold its own against a reputable team from Cornell University. If demonstrations of team spirit and skill continue and grow, perhaps BU can be home to the next UMBC-like underdog victory.
Last year, the UMBC’s men’s basketball team, also a member of the America East conference, earned the 16th seed in the Big Dance and ultimately defeated the first-seeded University of Virginia, marking the first time an upset of this magnitude ever happened in college basketball history. Though the odds were against it, UMBC defied all expectations and won, and its student backing on social media certainly contributed to it. One former student, who runs the team’s Twitter account, posted tweets with jokes accentuating the team’s historic victory. Having their peers’ support throughout their postseason run helped propel the Retrievers to victory.
Additionally, there are multiple student groups you can support by going to basketball games, beyond just the basketball teams. BU’s pep band plays music at every home game, and the Kickline, Dance and Cheer teams motivate the players and rally the crowd from the sidelines. These students also practice hard to perform for spectators. Both these students and the players perform better when enlivened by a substantial crowd. Students who don’t care for or don’t understand basketball can still find entertainment at the sporting events.
The athletics department works hard to put together events and promotions that will draw in fans. They held a “white out” game last season, where the first 4,000 students in attendance were given a free T-shirt to wear during the game. Often, students will be receive a free tote bag or BU hat just for coming out. Throughout the game, T-shirts are thrown into the stands every time a Bearcat cashes in on a three-pointer, and you have the chance to earn Dunkin’ Donuts coupons and free Coppertop pizza. The department has also hosted giveaway events where students have the chance to get $1,000 toward tuition if they can make a half-court shot.
Going to basketball games is a way to show your team spirit as well as your BU pride. Basketball is an extremely popular college sport, and we should treat it as such. Many students lament the lack of school spirit at BU, since it has a reputation for being many students’ second or third choice. If students had more school spirit, we could break free from this infamy. The competitive and fun atmosphere of basketball games can help foster school spirit. Everyone should aim to attend at least one game this season; get out and show your BU pride.