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The Daily Tar Heel

Column: Strengthening our basketball student section

UNC senior biology major Lizzie Stassenko celebrates a Carolina victory after UNC basketball's home game against Michigan on Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. UNC won 72-51.

If you google “best fans in college basketball,” the results aren't favorable. Most of the internet credits the “Cameron Crazies” with being the loudest, rowdiest and most passionate fans in the country. 

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that, in a sense, the folks on the internet have a point. Duke fans are sometimes wilder and crazier than those at UNC, not because they are any more passionate, but because of Duke’s student ticket policies. 

Duke students have prime seats along the sidelines and both baselines. Their anticipation grows during the months that they're forced to huddle in tents waiting for tickets. By the time they enter Cameron Indoor, their frustration explodes at their opponents. 

We cannot let this stand. I know in my heart that UNC students are capable of making the Dean Dome a hostile environment for any opposing team that dares set foot inside, but we need change. 

First, we need better student seating. At Cameron, nearly the entire court is surrounded by students. At UNC, only those lucky souls on the risers are near enough to yell and cheer up-close at the opposing team. The rest of us are tucked behind the risers, behind the opposing team’s fans, or in the upper levels. 

I understand why this is the case: the Dean Dome cost the university more money than they expected to pay, and they need to make up the difference by selling exorbitantly-priced courtside seats to alumni from the class of 1960. 

However, I offer this counter-argument. There should be better student sections to increase player morale, which can, in turn, help their performance. The better the team plays, the more money UNC makes. So, better student seats mean more money. 

Second, students need to stay for the whole game. It’s tempting to leave a game early when we’re down by twenty and the Smith Center becomes a sad and dark place. It’s also tempting to leave a game early when we’re winning by twenty points and you want to beat the line at Goodfellows. 

But we need to stay. It’s in those moments that we prove what kind of fans we are — not fair-weather fans, but fans who are willing to endure everything from utter heartbreak to minor inconvenience for their team. The entire student section staying for the entire game will show Armando & Co., as well as the poor fellows on the other team that we mean business. 

Third, the team needs to stay on the court to sing the alma mater. One of the best moments at a football game is when the team gathers in front of the student section and the band to sing Hark the Sound. At that moment, the students and the team become one and become more invested in each other. We need that in the Smith Center. 

It is a season of change in college basketball: Roy and Coach K are exiting stage left, and Hubert and what’s-his-face at Duke are entering stage right. Athletes can profit off of their own name and image. The folks at the Dean Dome just learned about memes. 

It’s our time to dethrone the Cameron Crazies and become nationally recognized as the best fans in college basketball. 


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