Last week, the editor of this section wrote a very interesting column titled “Where’s the Hype?” Sam Herder delivered a beautifully well-written analysis of Bison fans, questioning the student body’s interest in a very talented men’s basketball team.
Great points were made and intriguing questions were asked. And with his permission, I’d like to answer these questions to the best of my fandom knowledge.
The first question Herder addressed was concerning the likability of the basketball team. He asked why fans swarm the ticket office for the football team and not the basketball team.
For students, Saturday’s have become holidays, and it’s justifiable for fans to lose their minds and get excessively drunk and hyped up before a playoff football game. Over the past three to four years, it has become this way because what’s at stake.
Students get fired up about their football team that has been displaying dominance on the football field and have three consecutive national championships to show for it. The basketball team? They haven’t been relevant for nearly half a decade, causing students to roll their eyes at the thought of getting rowdy at the Bison Sports Arena.
The reality is the majority of students could care less about a basketball game.
But what it really boils down to is who is putting Fargo on the map. The football team has surely been successful at doing so, but the basketball team isn’t a blip on anyone’s radar.
The basketball team went 42-47 in the three years after making the NCAA tournament in 2009. Last year, they had moderate success, losing in the Summit League Championship game with only a loss to Western Michigan in something called the College Basketball Invitational to show for it.
I get where Herder’s frustration is coming from because of the talent on the basketball team, but the fans don’t want potential, they want results.
Fans at NDSU are wrongfully motivated by success and have a bad habit of following the hot ticket. They aren’t going to live and die with a historically mediocre basketball team. They’re going to support a team that has put 11 championship trophies in the trophy case, and not a team that squeaks by IUPUI.
So where’s the hype, Herder? Well, it graduated and moved on. The basketball team hasn’t been relevant in five years. That’s long enough for students to forget where the BSA is located on campus.
It goes back to the students’ thirst for exposure in the national spotlight. In the grand scheme of things, even a Summit League Championship doesn’t get you much. Plenty of teams win their mid-major conference championships and get invited to the Big Dance, but what does 40 minutes of fame against a Big 12 powerhouse really get you? Ultimately, you become another forgettable cupcake opponent in the first round.
Men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips can be frustrated by the lack of support and beg Scottie Miller for more fans, but thanks to the football team and prior lackluster seasons, Phillips isn’t going to draw these students in that easily.
So to answer the question about the lack of hype, it simply isn’t here yet. The students don’t have anything to get excited about, at least not yet. Maybe the fans will start jumping on the bandwagon as we approach the Summit League Tournament, but I wouldn’t count on it due to the fair weather fans littered across campus.