Backdoor Cuts: I remember my first game

February 17, 2011

Freshman year, when I first started writing for the Voice, I lucked into one of the best gigs ever: men’s basketball beat writer. The previous year’s writer was going abroad, and from among a young staff, I got the nod. That meant press passes to every game, reserved seating on the baseline, and never waiting on the cold sidewalk outside the Verizon Center.

Two-and-a-half years later, I’ve had front row seats for some amazing highlights, from President Obama’s appearance at the Duke game, to last season’s Big East Tournament. (I was also there in Providence last March, but I don’t like to talk about that.) But in that time, I’ve also never worn my We Are Georgetown shirt to the Verizon Center, never participated in a Hoya Saxa chant, and never cheered on my college basketball team in person. Last Sunday, when the Hoyas played Marquette, I decided it was time to change that.

Walking into the Verizon Center as a civilian for the first time was disorienting. Having used the press entrance on the opposite side of the building countless times, I found myself on an unfamiliar concourse. Thankfully I had my friends, the people I should have been sleeping on the pavement with over the past few years, to guide me. They led me down with them to their familiar territory on the pep band side like I was some kind of prospective student.

I didn’t know how I would respond when the game began. I’d never had the opportunity to cheer on the Hoyas (or against their opponents). There’s no cheering on press row, a rule I violated once during a particularly exciting overtime game against Memphis. I made sure never to do it again after the dirty glares from my fellow writers. But after the opening tip, being a fan came naturally to me. It’s not like I needed to resort to the Hoya Blue cheer sheet—I had heard it all before countless times.

Hearing the shouts of the student section was still very different than actually participating, however. Countless times before I had commented on the students’ impact on the game (or lack thereof) in articles and liveblogs. It had been easy to criticize fans for being quiet when things get tough, or disappearing entirely during particularly bad stretches (see: 2009), but no more. After experiencing a disappointing first half against Marquette firsthand, I can only imagine what a really bad game must be like.

Thankfully, the game got better as it went along. In the end I got what is probably one of the best Hoya fan experiences: a comeback win. Better yet, with the Hoyas returning to town on the heels of a seven-game winning streak, I experienced it with a full and raucous student section. Five minutes into the game, all my press row reservations were forgotten, and soon enough I was chanting for Marquette head coach Buzz Williams to get off the court. When the referees finally warned him for straying from the coach’s box in the final minutes, I won’t lie—I felt a sense of accomplishment.

A big reason I decided to give up my press pass for Sunday’s game was that I felt I was missing out on an important part of the Georgetown experience. My concerns were confirmed: sitting in the stands was like watching an entirely new game. That being said, I know I’ve got a good thing going as a reporter. I’ll be back on the baseline soon enough. After all, next weekend Syracuse is on tap—I can be quiet for a guaranteed front row seat to that.


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this article is really stupid. the voice’s sports coverage isn’t even good.