Given a choice between the two, nay.
With Michigan basketball finally good again, and Crisler routinely at near capacity, I think it’s time we talk about the game-day atmosphere at Crisler. Or, rather, I should phrase it, “Hey fans! Let’s talk about your game day experience!!1!1!!”
I’ve been a student season ticket holder for five years now, and have been going to Michigan basketball games since 1990. I was there for the Fab Five, the Ed Martin pay-a-player years, the Jamal Crawford headband craze, and all of the various incarnations of Amaker suck. I’ve seen a lot of stuff in Crisler come and go, good and bad, but this year's incarnation of the Athletic Department's attempt to make Crisler more exciting falls way, way, way short. While Crisler has long had the reputation of being slightly library-esque, that had more to do with the product on the court (and, let's be honest, a long history of the University being pretty apathetic and fair-weather about basketball). Now that we have what looks to be a great team on the floor, and an atmosphere that is loud by design but falls short of getting fans excited to go along with the artificial loudness. Basically, I think fans just don't get it, and by the last run-through of Zombie Nation on the PA, they're already sitting down.
Let’s run it down.
1. The PA announcer is TERRIBLE. This isn’t your day job at Comerica Park, quit acting like it is. “WHO WANTS A FREE PIZZZ-ZZAAAAAA???” “Hey fans!...” “3 for 3!” It’s awful. He’s been bad since he started, but it’s gotten even worse. If you want to hear an announcer who does a great job, the guy that does volleyball and (I think) women's basketball is tasteful and fun. And his voice isn't like an excitable cheese grater on your ears.
2. Stupid in-game promotions and gimmicks. Dance-cam? Seems like a lot of fun for the 4-to-9-year-old crowd, and no one else. Need I say more?
3. Music. I marched 4 years in the Michigan Marching Band, and played in all of the athletic bands as either a sub or permanent member. Part of my gripe has more to do with the administration of the band than it does the athletic department, but the blame definitely goes both ways. The Athletic Department needs to stop using/abusing the band. Don’t tell them to play stupid, cheesy crap like the “Hey, baby!” song. Don’t use them as a juke box for in-game promotions (which was also an issue at football games, too).
The use of canned music, which has become more prevalent as the season has progressed, pretty much makes them irrelevant. On the band’s end, the band administration needs to be more vocal in telling Athletics and Marketing to stick it with some of this pap. Sometimes you just have to play the Victors and hope the people with the finger on the button get the message. I don't care if some bimbo in a Marketing polo shirt is screaming into your headset and waving her arms around. Just play. I'm glad the band is bigger, and it looks like the move to the end zone could be a positive step, unlike the hockey band's relocation at Yost. That being said, what does it matter if they don't get to play 90% of the time?
4. Just because “everybody else does it” doesn’t make it right for Michigan. Cheesy intro videos with fancy-schmancy graphics, team intros with dimmed lights and cheesy spotlights and awful music, that stuff doesn’t get the crowd going. I’m sorry, it’s true. They’ve tried pulling that at Michigan Stadium (“I play for Michigan!”), and again, it falls short.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted with this team, and my criticisms have nothing to do with the product on the court. I’ve been waiting years to see a team this fundamentally strong with genuine excitement and joy to be out there on the court together. It’s a team for once. And I love seeing Crisler actually filled up and not have it just be for the big games. I just wish the games didn’t just reek of Sports Marketing and Athletics being un-inventive and lame. They could harness the energy of crowds that big by doing what Michigan has always done, not by blasting hip hop music and putting on a light show. After all, I remember Crisler exploding for Jalen Rose dunks and Lou Bullock three's, and that didn't need to be spurred by hip hop or Zombie Nation (which is, and should be, solely a Penn State thing) being played as soon as the opposing team took a time-out. I'm not saying Crisler should be a library, but why not accentuate what we already did right rather than attempt to mimic an NBA arena (or other schools) with pretty cheesy results?
On an aside that's somewhat related to the topic at hand...
5. Giving away free student tickets to all but the two biggest games is fine in theory, but doing it to overcompensate for nobody buying the overpriced student ticket package is not cool. I know they’ve fed us a couple times, we’re getting an extra shirt, there are incentives for going to every game, and that’s fine. But what advantage is it that I bought student tickets if the ushers aren’t even going to look at my ticket when I’m going into the Maize Rage bleachers?
The bleachers are becoming overcrowded with people who got in with the free tickets, leaving all of us poor saps that actually paid our way in to be squeezed into overcrowded rows that are getting more and more crowded as the season progresses. The only time they've looked at my ticket this season was not to make sure I had a ticket for the bleachers, but rather because the usher “wanted to see what the tickets looked like this year.” Are you kidding me? They're more concerned that people not stand in the aisles or in the top row than actually checking tickets to make sure people who are there should actually be there. I know people are going to stub their friends down anyway, and that there aren't enough paying students to actually fill the bleachers, but why not give away just enough bleacher tickets to almost fill the bleachers to the students who show up earlier (and actually police it) rather than just wave everybody through?
I feel like I got colossally ripped off for actually paying my way in for a fifth year when others can get essentially the same product as me without having to pay, aside from a few MDen gift cards and two $5 t-shirts with gigantic Adidas logos on the back. After all, the MDen gift cards are just revenue that goes back to Athletics, being that the Athletic Department has a large financial stake MDen. I can’t wait for the much-fabled embroidered sweatshirt we get if we go to everything to be another awful Adidas-logo-covered crapfest.
I know they’re trying to get student interest up, but why not do that by rewarding those who actually supported the team in previous years rather than devaluing their support by letting everybody else file in for free? Returning season ticket holders were promised free tickets by Coach Beilein this summer, and that didn’t come to pass. Instead, everybody else got free tickets while we just got a bunch of handouts that may or may not equal what we paid in. It's nice that they're doing something, but the last minute bait-and-switch "oh, well, you'll get all this free stuff!" business sucked royally.
So, what say ye, MGoBlog? Yay/nay?
1) College games should never have canned sound effects and recorded music if your band is worth a damn. Ours is. Kill the canned crap.
2) I hated that guy at Comerica. I live out of town so haven't heard too much of his annoyingness for M Basketball, but I heard enough on TV to know it was him. Get someone who isn't annoying.
That's kinda bogus that they're giving away free tickets to students and let them up front when some of you actually paid for that. They should have thought that through a little more. Getting more students to the game is a good thing, but not at the expense of those who paid for their tickets, especially if they sat through last year's crap.
Ever notice how Tiger games are way better when the away team is batting, just because you don't have to hear stuff like "CURRR-tiss, Gurrrrrrrrrrr-RRRANDER-son!" every time? His name is Bobb Vergiels, he is sucky, and apparently he has Facebook.
I like his Curtis Granderson call. But his basketball work makes me want to vomit acid.
1. Never really noticed the PA announcer. That's probably a bad thing for Michigan. I would like to have someone like the guy that does the Pistons. Mickidy-mickidy-mickidy-McDyess!!!
2. I like the video intro. I know it's cheesy but it pumped me up.
3. I'm with you on the band. But I don't know if canned music will cut it. I agree that the idea of a marching band no longer meshes with the culture of basketball. It's still awesome for football, but c'mon.... let's get a live group in there with electric instruments and conventional drums and get some hip hop / rock or something like that going on. Slaughter the sacred cow. Or at least get rid of all those horns, bring in more drums and get some funky rhythms going. Time to advance. Innovate. Let's ditch the dorky band shit.
I understand your desire to preserve traditions. But to me what makes college sports special are not only the traditions but the fact that the students play for something other than cash.
Anyway, traditions are tricky things. If you hold on to too many, people ditch. That's why you don't have all Catholic masses in Latin anymore. There are still a small group of Catholics who hate that Latin's gone, but really . . . it just wasn't feasible in today's world if you want people to comprehend mass and attract new followers.
What I'm advocating is keeping our traditions but letting some go ever so slightly to bend to the times. A new PA announcer is not going to destroy Michigan pride. A few more drums and a few less horns in the band is not going to make those guys with their jerseys in the rafters roll over in their graves.
is this serious?
Did you just compare the traditions of a school's athletics to those of the Catholic church?
I agree it's time to "ditch the dorky band shit."
I've been advocating replacing them with Hinder, or at least a Hinder cover band.
Your claims about the student section bleachers are off-base. Some people have financial/work obligations/other activities or factors which make them unable to buy a full season package. Paying for a full season of tickets does not entitle you to a different experience than should be available for all STUDENTS. I do, however, not agree with non-students coming into the student section or even worse, opposing fans (though this is definately more of an issue at football games). Either way, we should continue to support the basketball program...
OK, sure, that's fine, but free student tickets were not announced until after the deadline had passed (and had been informally extended), when they had realized student ticket purchasers had dropped significantly. It's not like we were given the option of buying tickets or opting for the free option.
Yes, students work (and I'm one of them) and are pretty busy. But that didn't stop the bleachers being full for years and years with overflow student seating all the way to the top of the gold section. I should know, my seat was in the 3rd to last row from the back wall my freshman year.
And, yes, paying for my tickets does entitle me to a different experience when the free tickets they're handing out are in the gold section.
back in the day when M basketball was routinely good, student tickets were up in the gold sections, which accounted for much of Crisler's rep as a library.
That, plus the fact that people would actually study at the games.
He might not have been much of a coach for our team, and he may have infuriated us when his teams seemed to be rudderless or never play up to their potential, but the student bleachers are there entirely because Tommy Amaker wanted them. So he did leave one definite positive and lasting mark on the program.
Ok, this is my fourth year of buying student tickets, and I have a lot to comment on in this post......
First, I find it very, very hard to believe that your ticket has only been checked once. Mine has been checked every time. Every time. So, I'm guessing you may be exaggerating a bit to sell your point.
However, your point is valid and needs no exaggeration. I'm more than annoyed by the non-season ticket holders sneaking in. That's an unfortunate fact of life, just like during football games. You're going to get squeezed a bit depending on where you sit. There are sections in the Rage where people won't bother sneaking into, especially if you're there early and get close. I'd suggest e-mailing the AD about the issue. I'm sure they'd be glad to send the word to the ushers (seriously, I think ushers completely enjoy, too much, telling a person they must leave). And, for the record, I have seen ushers pull non-ticket holders out of the student section. If you're going to complain about it you better be willing to ask the usher to remove someone.
What's the problem with paying $100 for student tickets. When I first bought them they were $160. Yeah, it sucks that many games ended up being free, but the athletic department has done many things to compensate for that. Things that you are two quick to downplay. First, there's the $20 gift certificate for attending all pre-conference games. I've already received that. Then there's the $30 gift certificate for attending all conference games. Then, there's the Maize Rage hoodie. Probably a retail value of $45. So, you kinda get your money back, and frankly, if you're anything like me and have been buying tickets for so long, you should be kinda excited for the Maize Rage hoodie. I'm really excited for it.
The "bimbo with the head set" is Katy Jackson. She's done a great job working with students in the Maize Rage to help create the best possible atmosphere. It's pretty low to resort to such name-calling. I, with about 20 other previous ticket holders, was invited to a group session to talk about these issues back in October. There's actually going to be another one in two weeks that addresses the ticketing issue. Good attempts are being made to address some of these issues. Unfortunately, the reason we are in this ticket situation is because Amaker ran the team so far into the ground that the AD couldn't sell 600 student tickets to fill the bleachers. Next year that shouldn't be a problem.
The music thing really got on my nerves the last game. You're right, too much pumped in. I'm ok with Zombie Nation because it has kinda been the Maize Rage's adopted joke about PSU. But last game it went too far. The band needs to be better utilized. Where's "Temptation"??? Where's the "Hawaiian War Chant"?
My biggest gripe is Where's M Fan-Fare?!?!?!?!?! That always got me pumped up when the players came in to the Fanfare and the entire Arena stood as one with their fist in the air and then broke into The Victors.
However, still the biggest problem is with the non-students. All those "old people" need to learn to get up and applaud a run that results in a timeout. Get up and applaud for a big defensive stand. Get up and applaud when the team is struggling and needs a bucket to stop a run. And by get up I mean GET ON YOUR FEET!
Finally, as for the announcer. I love the guy's voice, but am getting beyond annoyed by his mini-play-by-play comments. "And the free throw makes it three". God SHUT UP ALREADY. There should be rules about what an announcer should be able to say. Here they are:
"Basket by X"
"3-point basket by X"
"Foul by X, his first, team's fifth"
"Out-of-bounds, ball to X"
"X Violation, ball to X"
"Stepping to the line, number 33, player X"
That's it. No cutesy-Mason like garbage.
Some ushers are really lax about these things. There's one usher who works football games who I know almost never checks tickets for his section.
The Iowa game last weekend was my first at Crisler since the mid-90's. I sat up in the nosebleeders behind the M bench. I dont know about the other side of the arena, but our area was fairly active, and I remember several times that the section got on its feet, including when CJ Lee started diving around for loose balls with a 20 point lead. I hadn't been to a home game in years, but I wasnt upset with crowd participation (for a game that was mostly a blowout).
I have other observations, but I will reply to the main post with them.
Good points. I really miss the M Fanfare. The band needs to be allowed to provide more to the games.
As for the PA guy, he's got to stop rolling his R's. The "thrrrrrrrrree-pointer" thing is really obnoxious.
here are my thoughts on this topic. yes the announcer is a little below average in my opinion but when he accepted the job was when we were way below average. zombie nation is fine but we only need to hear it once a game. i know schools like wisconson and penn state have their "theme" songs and i always wondered why michigan never did-"living on a prayer" kinda summed up our previous seasons and definitely summed up our football season as well. as for the ticket situation i have rage tickets. its amazing how many people ask me to sneak them into the rage. my tickets have been checked at every game except for a few of the non conference cupcakes. next year when more people want the tickets i hope they realize who are the returning ragers and guarantee our seats if they are not going to give US the free tickets. its good that they have free tickets so that its filled up but there needs to be a way to keep them out of the rage. this being said its gonna take us with the real tickets not to borrow tickets from other ragers and not using the bleachers to sneek in free ticket people.
Went to my first game at Crisler since '96 or '97 this past Sunday. Some of my thoughts on points discussed in this thread.
1. The PA guy does indeed suck. I love him at Tigers games, but he doesn't do it for me basketball-wise. The "two for Blue", "and free throw makes 3" etc is overkill. Not a big fan of this guy.
2. Some of the promotions need to go. Students on trikes, a dance cam, "WHO WANTS A T-SHIRT"??? Focus more on basketball. Get some students trying to make 3 pointers, etc. If you are going to do a "WHO WANTS A T-SHIRT" thing, fine, but get an on-court emcee with a mike so you don't make your PA guy look like a moron.
3. The piped in music doesn't bother me. Just not Zombie Nation. I personally hate that thing. The pregame intro and video was kind of cool in my opinion. Maybe something like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5j0ovBOTRQ&feature=related with current players would be even better.
4. The student ticket situation would piss me off if I were one of you folks that paid for them.
5. The band is great, but I dont think they need to be the sole source of music in Crisler. Maybe if they had a little more variety. I heard "Temptation" once, but no HWC. Temptation should be busted out more often, and HWC should be played at least once.
On a side note, does anyone know which song is played as the team comes out of the locker room? It was played right before TI's "Bring 'em Out". I work for a minor league baseball team, and we currently use "Bring 'em Out", but I would like to maybe have something new this year.
Personally i think the announcer is the best thing to happen to michigan basketball since long shorts. Now there won't be an awkward transition between bball season and the other bball season. WHO WANTS A FREE PIZZZAAAAAA!!! that phrase just brightens up your day!
Second i love the dance cam, anyone else feel me on this? They showed a kid at the iowa game basically freak dancing and it was awesome.
One thought about the band too, i love "lets go blue" and "hail to the victors"(favorite song ever) but they are way, way over played to the point of insanity. Agree?
and how bout kevin quick huh?
Bando, I disagree with almost every single thing you wrote except for the PA announcer who should never be let into Crisler arena again.
Dont have time now to reply point by point. Maybe later.
At 11:22 AM, January 14th, 2009, Crisler Arena became self-aware.
at least they are trying to turn things around at the arena for the mens bball program. it used to be aweful and now its better but still not great. love the band and the director, that man has so much fun with his job and he is great to watch
Surely you're talking about the Alumni Band director.
Scott Boerma isn't exactly the most excitable person on the planet to watch direct anything... Which causes me to think you're admiring the work of John Wilkins, who gets so into it he has to bring a towel to games to wipe off the gallon of sweat he works up from dancing around and getting pumped up.
The last person in Marty Bodnar's job was Tom Brooks, who was great at responding to emails about this sort of thing. Let's hope Marty is the same way.
GET OFF MY LAWN!!!!!
I've only been to Crisler once for this year's Duke game, but I agree that the announcer is just awful. I hate the stupid pre-game videos (especially at the Big House,) they're sort of an insult to the fans and the players, that we need a video to fire people up. I also dislike the text-for-song promo's, this isnt a pro game so what the hell. And while I can't really comment on subject #5 until next year (when I hopefully will be able to get Maize Rage seats as a freshman,) I do share a general disdain for adidas.