Thursday, June 4, 2020

Letter: Engage fans better at Michigan State basketball games

<p>Sparty throws T-shirts into the crowd during the game against East Tennessee State Nov. 11, 2018 at Breslin Center. The Spartans lead the Buccaneers at halftime, 32-29.</p>

Sparty throws T-shirts into the crowd during the game against East Tennessee State Nov. 11, 2018 at Breslin Center. The Spartans lead the Buccaneers at halftime, 32-29.

Photo by Annie Barker | The State News

By David Poulson 

Poulson is a professor for the Michigan State School of Journalism.


It is astonishing that MSU basketball officials alienate so many ticket holders over something so lame.

It’s hardly like the challenges of addressing off-court crimes, recruiting scandals or even seating controversies.

No, you can fix this problem with a flick of the wrist: Turn up the air pressure on the T-shirt cannon.

How can Breslin Center officials not see the kids who each game come from the top of the upper bowl to wave frantically at its lower rim in hopes that someone will fire a souvenir their way? They snare one just rarely enough to make clear that the problem is not an absence of firepower. 

No, this is because Breslin officials fail to see a need to at least provide the illusion of fairly engaging everyone.

The mini-ball toss generates similar grumbling among upper bowl fans. Again, you can’t blame inadequate technology. I’ve been a season ticket holder long enough to remember when cheerleaders stuffed their megaphones with the balls and brought them to the upper bowl to toss.

Perhaps most grating: The T-shirt parachute drop that originates in the rafters. The parachutes waft by upper bowl fans who can only hope that an errant ventilation fan will blow them a souvenir on its way to the lower bowl.

Look, this is hardly a crisis. No one goes to a Spartan basketball game just to snag a lame T-shirt or a foam basketball. MSU basketball provides great entertainment value.

But if these activities are designed to enhance fan experience and offer a marketing opportunity for sponsors, why irritate such a big chunk of the crowd?

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