Lots to discuss in terms of conference realignment.
We’re gonna spare you all the talk of cultural fit, traditional geographical rivalries that give college sports the personality that professional sports lacks and talk of this being the “new Wild West.”
There’s a place for that talk, but hear me out.
Instead let’s talk about cold hard cash, specifically the amount that’s about to flow into member universities of the Big Ten Conference.
The 14 schools were already set to see a payday of monumental proportions prior to the news of UCLA and USC joining the fray. Now, with the three largest media markets in the United States in his realm, commissioner Kevin Warren seeks to obtain The Bag during the conference’s upcoming media rights negotiations.
We’re gonna be living it up, diving into a pool of bills Scrooge McDuck-style by the time all is said and done. But what does any of this have to do with the Assembly Hall balcony, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you what!
The balcony serves as an extension of the student section, and that stinks!
Sure, there’s a few seats closer to the court and in the south bleachers just behind the basket, but that just isn’t enough. It’s already tough to get close to the court as it is with the way the arena is put together.
Any overflow of students is relegated to seats in the balcony, where the air is thin and the basketball not as fun. Have you tried yelling at Precious Brad when he’s a million light years away? Doesn’t pack all that much of a punch.
The balcony shakes when games get particularly rowdy, but it’s less of a “OH MY GOD WHAT AN ENVIRONMENT GO HOOSIER” and more of a “The class action lawsuit that’ll come about from the end result here will be devastating.”
It’s cool that families, alumni and older season ticket holders get to be closer to the action, but that does absolutely nothing to help the environment.
Sorry! I just don’t think Bob and his four kids from the Indianapolis suburbs are gonna be able to get in the head of a Big Ten center the way that four undergrads who spent the morning at Upstairs feverishly googling and scrolling through social media can.
Only they, the students, truly get the beef with ghosts of Big Ten basketball past like Brad Davison and Matt Haarms. They also have the ability, and willingness, to heckle and yell.
Will that ultimately sway the outcome of the game? Maybe! A final shot could airball or a reliable shooter could pass up a chance if the crowd gets in their head enough. If it doesn’t work, who cares? The environment is a lot more fun that way and the arena would have the teeth we love to say it does.
Most of those tickets in the lower bowl go to people who are able to afford top-dollar seats, but that’s small potatoes compared to what the athletic department is going to get in the next media rights agreement.
So, Indiana University Athletics, if you’re listening please do students and Assembly Hall a favor and get more student tickets closer to the court. We’re already going to be losing a lot of the personality and traditions that make college sports so fun, so please just give us this one little thing.