Monday, March 12, 2012

The Woes of Stanford Men's Basketball

The roar of the crowd as each basket is made echoes throughout the stadium. Chants are bellowed at opposing players racing up and down the courts. The student section is chaotic as the game swings wildly with no clear cut winner in sight as the final minute winds down. The scene is what I had hoped to envision of Stanford Men's Basketball ever since I entered as a freshman. And to say the least, almost none of this has really ever happened.

To be fair, Stanford Men's Basketball hasn't exactly been worthy of such excitement in the last few years. But Stanford is considered by many to have the ability to achieve success even against other great teams. Evident of this is Stanford's ability to produce NBA talent in recent years (Brook and Robin Lopez, Landry Fields). Even looking to success in the NCAA tournament in the last decade shows Stanford can succeed in basketball and that Stanford students supported their team. Stanford students used to be rabid college basketball fans as much as fans from UCLA, Kentucky, Kansas, and Arizona. Students even paid for tickets to get into the game.

But somewhere between then and now, things have tapered off. Blame it on the lack of talent coming to Stanford. Blame it on the Pac 12, which in recent years has been criticized over the lack of basketball talent in the last few years. You could even blame it on the resurgence of Stanford Football, which for years had been in the shadow of basketball, until the emergence of stars such as Toby Gerhart and Andrew Luck and Jim Harbaugh. Not a single one of these is the true cause, rather, it may just be the attitude of Stanford students towards sports in general.

Stanford is known for being a great school for academics and athletics. We are just known for winning in anything and everything (17 Straight Director's Cups as an example). With 101 National team titles, and a plethora of individual ones, athletes are expected to succeed. These teams sometimes don't even have the fans they often deserve, with very few students in support at home games. If that's the case, I shouldn't expect that for a sub-par team right? For students, it takes a winner to create support, not just any winner, but a surprising winner, much like how Stanford Football is, to draw in the students.

Coming to games, I can't help but feel angry and saddened by the fan support for our amazing athletic teams. Often times, the student section is half filled. What's worse, part of the student section has turned into seats for the general public because there haven't been enough students coming to the games. The game time traditions and cheers are becoming lost as the fans that come don't bother to learn them. The energy is gone. Even with a 21-11 record this year, Stanford basketball isn't feeling the love from it's students. As a part of the Stanford 6th Man Committee, the Stanford Men's Basketball Student Fan Organization, this is a sour position to be in. The picture above says it all. The look of disbelief and the empty spaces in the crowd says more than everything I have just written. College basketball isn't just important anymore to Stanford students. And that's a shame, with great teams from both the Women's team and the Men's team. Why can't Stanford students be as crazy about our sports teams as they are about their academics?

Sumat Lam

6th Man Committee Member
Loyal Stanford Basketball Fan
3:15 PWR Class

No comments: