Upon hearing the news that part of the Izzone, MSU’s student section at men’s basketball games, is being moved behind the benches and scorer’s table to make it more visible on TV, former Izzone section leader Christine Varley said she was glad a change finally was taking place.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Varley, an applied engineering sciences junior. “Before, you couldn’t really see or feel all of the excitement that comes from the students, because they’re the fans that really get into the game.”
Although it is one of the most recognizable student sections in college basketball, the Izzone typically went unnoticed on TV during Spartan basketball games. Instead of getting a glimpse of some of the 1,500 screaming students bouncing up and down, anyone watching the game more likely was going to see a section of alumni, family and recruits.
Starting next season, though, the perspective will be slightly different for TV viewers, as the lower section of the Izzone along the sidelines will be moved to the other side, putting it front and center on TV. The upper bowl Izzone will remain in its current position.
“What (men’s basketball head coach Tom Izzo) desired, and I think most everyone agreed with, is to get the sea of white behind the benches in the line of the cameras,” MSU athletic director Mark Hollis said at a media briefing May 20. “Behind the benches now, you’re going to have the 36 visitors and then that sea of white.”
Hollis said no seats will be taken away or added, but the section of non-students currently seen on TV will switch sides with the Izzone.
Izzone co-director and interdisciplinary studies in social science and public policy studies senior Shane Smith said the idea of moving some of the Izzone’s seating to a new location was not a new idea.
“It’s always been one of the things that we’ve been working toward — to either move the section behind the benches or move the TV cameras to the other side,” Smith said. “We knew this was coming going into last year.”
As a section leader in the Izzone last season, Varley said she and others in the student section had talked about how the change would be an improvement — not just for those watching the game, but also the Spartans who are playing.
“I think a lot of the students want to be behind the players because it makes us feel like we’re really supporting the team,” Varley said. “It kind of adds to the idea of the sixth man.”
Smith, who became president of the Student Alumni Foundation in April, said the Izzone has more seats close to the court than most schools in the country. He said making the Izzone visible to viewers everywhere is a great way to show how much support the MSU students have from the university and the athletic department.
However, Smith said the most important reason he and others wanted the students to be seen is to create a feeling of actually being at the game even when just watching it on TV.
“When you go to Breslin and see a game in person, you feel that atmosphere,” Smith said. “But it doesn’t always come through when you’re watching it on TV, so this is one of those things where people that are at home can get the same kind of atmosphere while they’re sitting in their living room.”