Student seating at the Dean Dome is awful.
Pushed behind one net and into the second level, students do not intimidate or affect the game as they might in other stadiums. They can look across to find themselves in a sea of apathy. Carolina blue sweater vests, wine, cheese and the “I only stand during runs” mentality pervade the landscape of our holy stadium.
Even Coach Roy Williams has said, “We need some dadgum help” after a particularly limp performance by the crowd.
This affects recruiting, the performance on the court and, most importantly, the student experience of attending a UNC game.
A change should be made to enhance that experience so that, particularly during low attendance games, students can be allowed to have a greater effect on the game. We cannot let wine and cheese rule.
The Carmichael Classic, a once a year game at Carmichael Auditorium where only students attend, was one idea. But we believe there should also be a more fundamental shift in the Dean Dome.
While we absolutely love that our student tickets are free, some of us would be willing to fork over a little cash for a better spot to watch the Tar Heels trample every opponent. Maybe the athletics department could sell discounted season tickets for students. Or, the athletic department could recruit donors for better designated student seats. If spending money, either from students or from the athletic department’s budget, is not an option, students could line up at the Dean Dome and fill the empty seats after the first quarter.
For all the money pumping through the UNC program, someone must realize that investing in a better student section would make us more competitive.
We recognize the argument that these seats help fund the program. But if a school with the best basketball traditions in the country cannot figure out how to make enough money to ensure a good crowd — that is pretty pathetic.
The students have been put to the side for far too long, bursting with energy but very far away from the action, cameras and general fanfare of the game.
We are not proposing that UNC do away with the lottery system and the free risers. We love that the risers are open to us for free, and we respect that the lottery system rewards students who attend non-revenue generating sporting events.
But if money is the obstacle then we need solutions that acknowledge that reality.
People care about basketball here. This is a basketball school. Students, alumni, faculty and fans tune into UNC basketball games from all over the world. It is a disgrace that they so often get about the same amount of energy in their home.
If there is a way to improve student’s access to good seats in the Dean Dome, we want it. The more students who attend games, the better. The more students who attend, the louder the cheers, the more enthusiastic the crowd and the better our team does.
The dichotomy underneath the two baskets, the students moving and jumping trying to distract the free throw shooter and the wine and cheese folk barely moving, perhaps one dancing almost sarcastically, has to change.
North Carolina basketball is too good for the current crowd at the Dean Dome.
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