“I think he’s upset at all the orange that got in the building.” – Bill Raftery when Luka Mirkovic urged the crowd to make noise as he went to the bench Saturday.
I don’t know if Luka was really upset about the orange on Saturday, but I was. That’s the point of this rant or, I suppose, ramble.
Let me start this commentary by saying that I get that technically people are free to do whatever they want with tickets they purchase. However, after my experience at Welsh-Ryan on Saturday, I think something needs to be done with the way Northwestern and NU fans handle the distribution of their season tickets. I’m very fortunate I get to sit where I do at Welsh-Ryan. It comes from thirty years of family season tickets, but nonetheless, I do appreciate how lucky I am to watch games from just a few rows behind the scorer’s table. I realized how lucky I was when I made my road trip to Champaign when we sat in about row 20 and one my friends was thrilled because according to him it was the best seat he ever sat in at a basketball game while I was thinking, “this is worst seat I’ve ever sat in at a basketball game by far.”
The point is that my seat at NU is one of the best in the arena and I know a number of loyal NU fans that would love to have the seats in front of or behind me. However, on Saturday in the four seats behind me were three Illinois fans and a lone NU fan, in front of me were four Illinois fans, and to my right were one Illinois fan and one NU fan. The aisle was to my left. When two of the Illinois fans behind me arrived, they were a little lost and showed me their tickets because they needed a little help finding their seats. Because I’m a good guy I showed them were to sit, but I noticed their tickets looked just like mine—in other words a season ticket holder gave their tickets away and not for the first time.
The fact that we have NU season ticket holders with great seats giving away there tickets upsets me. I’ve talked about this before, but I have to talk about this again. I know Northwestern wants the money season tickets holders generate, but if somebody never comes to a game and gives their tickets away to visiting fans I have to wonder if their tickets are worth the money it generates. After all, what those people are essentially doing is making the fan experience for loyal fans worse. Now, I’m not going to stop attending games because I was surrounded by Illinois fans, but that’s me. I know people who in similar circumstances have considered dropping their tickets because they and their children are constantly made to feel uncomfortable in their season tickets because of obnoxious visiting fans surrounding them. I personally feel that Northwestern should do what I did after the game and turn on the CBS broadcast and look at just how much orange was clearly visible in sections 110-113. It was an embarrassment for NU’s first ever CBS game and it really ticks me off. NU should then try and assess just how that much orange got into some of the best seats in Welsh-Ryan. It might not be realistic to pull season tickets at this point, but I think it would be worth spending the rest of this season and next season gathering data as to what seats are filled by Northwestern fans. If season tickets are never filled by NU fans then its time to go to those people and tell them they are free to keep their tickets, but they will no longer be in TV camera range and let people who are in the upper reaches of the arena in purple every game come and sit down in the lower level.
Related somewhat to this are the NU fans who bring fans from other teams. The point of view I advocate here will probably be met with some hostility, but I stand by it. I say to all NU fans, please don’t bring fans of other teams to our games unless you’re married to one of them. Not to say how great I am, just prove I practice what I preach; I did chose not to bring my Illinois friends who took me to Champaign for their home game to Evanston for this game. You might say that just proves I’m a bad friend, but I didn’t bring them because I can’t stand it when people bring orange, red, or green-clad people and sit them around me. Therefore, I wasn’t going to be a hypocrite and subject anyone else to that. My friends are my friends, they know me and understand me so they weren’t surprised that I didn’t want them going crazy for the Illini in great Welsh-Ryan seats. Now, let’s be honest, people are free to disagree with me, but again, personally, unless you’re married to someone who went to another Big Ten school, it would please me a lot if you wouldn’t bring your Illinois/Wisconsin/Ohio State/Iowa/Michigan State fan friends to Welsh-Ryan and then have sit behind me and cheer their obnoxiously for their school. You might say, “What does it matter if I bring my best friend to this game? He/She is one person.” The problem is that a quick look around shows you aren’t the only person to use that logic and we’ve ended up with 50% visiting fans in an NU season ticket section. The same thing happened for the Wrigley Field disaster even though Northwestern’s ticket office tried to limit ticket sales to just NU people. Then they seemed confused what happened. Let me tell you what happened NUDAR, NU fans bought tickets for Illinois people!
So call me a jerk or someone who values their basketball team over their friends, but I as NU fan am making a solemn request to all NU fans that from this point on until NU makes the Final Four in basketball or wins the Rose Bowl in football and we develop our own powerful fan base that no NU fan buy tickets and give them away to fans of other schools unless the person you bring is more than a friend (e.g. your spouse). It’s a sad fact, but our fan base isn’t that great and is easily overwhelmed with visitors and if we help them get in (e.g. buy/give away to them tickets) then we create a hostile environment for our own team which lowers their odds of winning. NU was very lucky on Saturday that Illinois never got ahead, because if they had chants of I-L-L-I-N-I would have rained down on the court, momentum would have totally swung, and Illinois would have used it to cost to about an eight point win. I’ve seen it happen before; you can help stop it from happening again.
End of rant/ramble. Now feel free to rant/ramble back.