By Christian Heimall, Staff Writer
I remember, very early in my college career (my sophomore year, 2008-09) when another journalist for this publication stated that the school spirit of the Lion's Den at the Mack had died. I remember that day. VCU was playing Hofstra and Eric Maynor went OFF while being berated by the students for being "Overrated" (he now plays in the NBA, by the way).
What Nick Bond said was in no way wrong, and what I'm saying is not a regurgitation of his statement, but rather a reminder that it's still dead. I've been to every home game the Hofstra Men's Basketball team has. Two of those times I have been in the Den as a fan, once on opening day and once versus Wagner the day after Thanksgiving (the other time was Towson and I was on the radio calling the game).
Every time I've seen the Den I've been disappointed. The crowd against Farmingdale State was large, so was the one at Towson, but it was not to caliber it can be. Now none of us current students were lucky enough for the days Mr. Bond saw when the students did "Pack the Mack" but that doesn't mean we can't still experience it.
There are a few things that need to change immediately for the student section to become respectable.
Get there early and stay the entire time.
My freshman year was Antoine Agudio's last. I remember showing up to every game 10 minutes before the gates open (which is an hour before tip) and seeing a line of students waiting to get in. I remember the crowd supporting one of the best in Hofstra history all season. The concept is simple, show up, stay standing, stay loud and stay till the buzzer. I wish this publication reached to the non-student community that decides to leave before the final seconds tick off the clock. That to me is more disrespecting to the teams than chanting that the visitors suck.
Aside from loving Ziggy Sestokas for three years and chanting simply for him, I haven't seen an original chant from the Den. However, my favorite thing that has been done is the concept of the "Look at Me" guy. That is an opportunity to give a mainstay to the Mack, much like Cameron Indoor had with their bikini guy. Let's get some of the creativity back there and stop calling every white guy on the floor "Justin Bieber".
What makes Penn State football or Duke basketball so great? Organization. The students know what colors they are going to wear, they now what chants they are going to use, and they know everything about their school's opponent. I know we aren't Duke or Penn State but hell I was at a Northeastern Hockey game a month ago and saw the entire student sections in the same color and use the same chants at the same time and every single student was involved! It was the best experience at a mid-major school I ever had as a fan, including trips to George Mason. Why can't the same happen here?
You want to know why the football program was cut? Not because the team struggled, which they did, but because there was no support for the team. Nobody went to the games, nobody cared. Other schools charge admission for students, Hofstra does not but still nobody would be there. At Homecoming 2009 there were more students in the parking lot playing beer pong than there were in the stands rooting for their squad. Maybe that's the Long Island way, but where I come from (Tennessee) we tailgate and then 15-20 minutes before the start of a game, we go inside and we get rowdy as hell and stay that way the entire time the teams are playing.
The university had to create a reward's program to get students to show up? Is that what it takes?!? You have to be bribed to go to a game? Apparently not because still nobody shows up for the women's team that went to the WNIT last season when the men only went to the CBI.
What I find so upsetting is that these programs deserve so much more. Charles Jenkins is in his senior season and has the best chance of winning a conference title. Shante Evans is one of the top players in her league and the women could also win a conference championship this year. Why is it that this school needs to have its students bribed to show up? Whether it is through rewards programs or articles like this, students have to have a reason other than supporting their school to attend games?
If you take issue with this, don't argue with me like you did Nick Bond, by showing up and chanting obscenities at me, you'll only prove me right. Show up early, organized and ready to support the Hofstra Pride. If I wasn't following a dream by calling these games on the radio, I'd be right there with you in the Mack for what I honestly feel is the best team in the CAA. Go Pride!