In February of 1999, I was asked by then Carolina Athletic Association presidential candidate Tee Pruitt to "light a fire under Fever's ass."
Tee felt that Carolina Fever had been apathetic in the past year, and I had to agree. So I thought long and hard: "How exactly do I get a bunch of students to stand and cheer?" The answer was in fact quite obvious: Make them an offer they can't refuse. Or, in other words, reward them for their effort.
So I asked Tee to make our block at basketball games bigger and better. I explained to him that I could market Carolina Fever to the students more effectively if I were able to guarantee them great seats. That is, if they were willing to work for them.
This seems to be where Fever has been misunderstood.
Everyone seems to think that Fever is easy. It's not easy at all; that's just the way we market it.
You don't see Carolina taking any prospective students to South Campus, do you? No, because in marketing you stress the good and downplay the not so good.
Ask any current Fever member; earning a basketball ticket through us requires a considerable amount of time. I'll prove it: We target two to three non-revenue sports (every varsity sport except football and men's basketball) games each week. Each of these games demands two to three hours of time. To have earned a basketball ticket for the exhibition games, a Fever member had to attend at least eight events. That's at least 20 hours of his time.
Compare this to the 30 minutes it takes students to walk to the Dean Dome to pick up a bracelet plus the two additional hours they will spend on Saturday morning picking up their tickets. That's a total of two and a half hours to obtain tickets to three games through a normal distribution. There's no comparison - 20 versus two and a half.
And no, 6 a.m. doesn't matter. It's obvious that Fever members deserve the basketball tickets they get.
"Now Casey," you ask, "doesn't bribing members with basketball tickets contradict the goal of Fever?"
Not at all.
Fever's mission as stated in the CAA constitution is "to support Carolina athletics, with an emphasis on non-revenue sports." My interpretation of this statement was that we support all varsity sports, including basketball. We just put more effort into supporting our non-revenue sports teams. And, as a reward for supporting these sports, our members receive seats in a block at the Dean Dome.
"But doesn't that undermine the sincerity of the members who are supporting our teams?"
Not in the least way. It's just marketing. It is no different than Nike handing out T-shirts at a volleyball game, or the field hockey team giving away free hot dogs, or Wachovia handing out seat cushions at women's soccer games. All of it is just marketing.
It's meant to get people in the door.
That's what the basketball tickets are for Fever members: a way to increase attendance at non-revenue sports games. Once Fever members are there, they will cheer if they have the tiniest bit of school spirit in them (and the vast majority of them do).
If you don't believe me, ask the volleyball team about its match against Georgia Tech, or the field hockey team about its game against Old Dominion, or the men's soccer team about its game against Virginia.
Ask them if they heard the fans; ask them if cheering helped. There were more than 200 Fever members at all of those games, and (gasp) they were standing and cheering the whole time.
But the student body, including the DTH editorial board, wouldn't know that because they weren't there.
All they saw was a bit of apathy at basketball games last year. I admit we can do much better. Part of that was due to the lack of success of the team, but it was mostly my fault. I didn't do my job of keeping them excited, and I take full responsibility for that.
All of the Fever members who were in the Dean Dome last year, however, had been incredible at non-revenue sports games throughout the fall. And it is unfair for anyone to judge our entire group by how they behaved at basketball games last year, because basketball is such a small part of what we do.
"But Casey, I work 30 hours a week; I can't possibly make any Fever games."
That's fine; Fever is not for everyone. It's only for the true sports fan who wishes to devote some of his time to supporting Carolina athletics. CAA has a random ticket distribution that will take care of you.
Of course, I find it rather ironic that you have the time to rearrange your schedule to make it to every home basketball game but can't seem to make time to come to see any non-revenue sports that need your support more than our basketball team ever will.
So I put forth a challenge to the DTH staff and to the student body as a whole.
On Friday, Oct. 13, Fever has two games scheduled: a field hockey game versus Michigan at 2 p.m. and a volleyball game versus Wake Forest at 7 p.m. Come to one of these two games. Or, if you are too busy to make it then, check out our schedule of targeted games at http://www.unc.edu/student/orgs/caa/fever.html and find a game that suits you.
If, after seeing Fever at one of those games, you still believe that we do not deserve basketball tickets, I will accept your claim.
But until you have actually seen us at a non-revenue sports game, you have no right to pass judgement.
Casey Privette is a senior political science major from Nashville, N.C., Carolina Fever's football/basketball director and an avid volleyball fan who traveled to Maryland this weekend to see the team play. Reach Privette at email@example.com.