Basketball season is rapidly approaching.
I know this not just because the Red Storm’s television schedule was released last week, or because men’s head coach Steve
Lavin is on the fall recruiting trail, gathering the remainder of his “Noah’s Ark” for the 2011-12 season.
I know basketball season is near because Friday is St. John’s annual Tip Off celebration, a basketball pep rally event that hypes the Red Storm fan base and brings the school together as only its historic athletic program can.
This season, as a seniorladen men’s team hopes to reach the NCAA tournament and the women’s team looks to build on its NCAA appearance last year, the Tip Off will take place in Carnesecca Arena—as opposed to Taffner Field House, where
the event has been held in recent years. It will be hosted by Sportscenteranchor John Anderson, with entertainment being provided by DJ S&S, who spins for Sean “Diddy” Combs. The first 2,000 fans get free pizza, and the school promises even
more giveaways and other promotions for the students than have been given out in the past.
This is what’s been advertised by the University. John Anderson, DJ S&S, free stuff—that is why you should attend. Put basketball aside—for a basketball event, mind you—and see what you’re going to get if you show up.
In my years at St. John’s I’ve noticed something about our student body—kids like being fed, they like celebrities and they like free stuff. The rest—the basketball, in this case—is just details.
Who doesn’t like free stuff, though? Free stuff is generally what gets kids to go to events, anyway. At many of the events the campus sponsors—like the ‘I Heart STJ’ event yesterday, where kids lined up outside Taffner past the D’Angelo Center solely for a pair of pajama pants—kids show up, swipe their cards for MVP points (which leads to more giveaways), get their free swag, then leave.
What’s to say the Tip Off would be different?
It’s easy for me to believe that Carnesecca Arena may be packed Friday mainly because of the event’s aesthetics, and not because of the basketball teams they’re supposed to be celebrating. And for a school whose basketball programs are in a transitional period where the school is trying to build a more traditional, historic public image—saturating the event with promotions and giveaways and celebrities would simply be counterproductive.
You’d be building a hollow image, one lacking the sincerity and heart required to garner such a noble reputation, one the players and coaches, even the St. John’s Athletic Department, don’t deserve from their fan base. They deserve much, much better. They deserve
nothing but unconditional devotion from their fans and classmates.
So celebrate Steve Lavin, Kim Barnes Arico and their teams. Celebrate the start of another basketball season, not that St. John’s was able to book Diddy’s DJ and a Sportscenteranchor. I’m not saying you shouldn’t enjoy these things, because they are exciting. It’s good that St. John’s has gone to such measures to keep its student body excited about the start of the season, but just make sure
that excitement is directed at the teams that’ll be taking the floor this season and not at the three MVP points you’d get for attending.