Column: Themed basketball games would better engage fans
By Haley O’Shaughnessy–
Last summer, basketball analyst Digger Phelps reported that the University of Louisville would host an ESPN College GameDay special in the KFC Yum! Center. This statement was later retracted without explanation, leaving Louisville fans distraught, with a big question forming behind their painted faces: Are we not dedicated enough?
Alas Cardinal fans, this self-doubting could transform into something beautiful — an opportunity to make ESPN notice the fans of Louisville, Kentucky and regret the decision to not have College GameDay here.
It is time to think outside of the usual fandom box. Blackouts are a good start, even if they require quite a bit of lint rolling and are electrically misleading to those freshmen new to college sports. Whiteouts are also good, especially when Pitino dons the suit. But neither of these traditional ideas will set Cardinal fans apart. A wild, unheard of themed game is needed, where fans dress up as a united front. Here are a few of the best, and possibly most extreme, ideas:
1. The first idea comes from Louisville’s very own Elle Raiser: the Harry Potter theme. Some may say that “Harry Potter” anything is overdone. And sure, Potterheads will try to throw a HP theme on anything from birthday parties to ultrasounds, but if the entire student section would participate, dividing into their destined houses, Louisville fans would be on another level. Plus, fans could curse the other team. Avada Kadavra, UK.
2. Another, which has been done before, is forming a giant message or picture with papers. The logistics of this would be difficult, but perhaps a Speed School student and a marketing student could combine their smarts and make it possible. The idea is to put a poster board-type paper underneath each student’s seat. When lifted up, it would create an image. Difficult? Extremely. Ability to be ignored? Impossible.
3. Another idea is really one that started on a blog and developed within a blogger’s heart: the Card Chronicle mask takeover. SB Nation site, Card Chronicle, a blog about Louisville sports, founded a dream this season: the dream of wearing creepy Cardinal masks to sporting events. Found in its natural habitat — Amazon.com for only $12 — the mask has creeped its way into Louisville sporting events all football season. Thankfully, the practice of wearing the masks has been carried over to basketball. Funding would be difficult, as the “poor college kid” cliché seems to hold true in most cases, but maybe the Athletic department would see the true beauty of the idea and purchase hundreds for the student section.
The point really is that something needs to be done by fans to step their game up. These are just suggestions. Take them or leave them (take them), and run with them, right into the KFC Yum! Center.
Photo: Austin Lassell/The Louisville Cardinal