Midnight madness: Fan up, Liberty

The University of Kentucky does it, the University of North Carolina does it and even the University of South Carolina Upstate does it. “It” is referring to the tradition of Midnight Madness — a theme that announces the beginning of the college basketball season.

Beginning in 1971, former Maryland head coach Lefty Driesell started this mid-October tradition by having his basketball team first practice at 12:01 a.m. But unlike the scenes of screaming students, music introductions and competitions between the men’s and women’s basketball team, Driesell’s Terrapins held a regular practice running a mile on the football field (Byrd Stadium). However, that next year about 1,000 fans came to watch the Terrapins practice.

What it has become

Forty years later, this “regular” practice has become a celebration for universities across America. But here at Liberty University, there is not a pre-season celebration recognizing our basketball programs. There are not any slam-dunk or three-point competitions or scrimmages for the student body to see.

Why not have it

Midnight Madness has not been a part of Liberty since 2009. One reason that Midnight Madness is not at Liberty may be because of the lack of attendance at basketball games. However, this can be a positive in bringing more attention to the men’s and women’s programs to on-campus students.

Since the Vines Center opened in 1990 the arena has been sold out 10 times total and three times since 2000 for basketball games. Last year, the average attendance at the Vines Center was around 2,820.

According the NCAA, the average attendance of college basketball games for the 2010-11 season was 5,025. Top schools such as Kentucky, North Carolina and Duke have their students enter a lottery or raffle just to get into games. At Liberty, with a Flames card, a student gets free entry to games. However, students struggle to get one side of Vines filled up.

Liberty University has great fans that support various teams of the University such as hockey and football. However, when the Athletic Director or leaders of the teams have to beg students to come to games due to lack of support, that is just sad.

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