You know what, Bear fans? I'm disappointed in you.
This feeling has been building all season, really. We've got ourselves a first-place basketball team, one that's exciting to watch to boot, and yet fan support at Haas can best be described as 'tepid' or 'middling'. In many ways, the crowds are reminiscent of those that showed up to watch the end of the Ben Braun era, as the team stumbled to eight-place finished, hoping for NIT berths. Sure, a good number of people show up on gamedays, but not nearly enough to fill the building, and not all of them make much noise. The fact that organized cheers from Bruin fans were audible during UCLA's comeback victory in January is flat-out embarrassing. Where are you people, and why aren't you screaming your heads off for a team that very much deserves your support?
In some ways, attendance has followed the pattern it does every year. The stands aren't packed for the non-conference schedule because it's still football season, and few (if any) of the games are against interesting opponents, and some are against those you've never heard of. Then the students all go on winter break, and us working adults are on vacation, so that's where we all were during the Stanfurd, U$C, and fUCLA games. Then Cal hosted the Oregon schools, and neither of them are good, so many of you didn't bother to show up. Excuses beget excuses beget excuses. Lame.
Look, here's what's going down. Cal has seven games left in the Pac-10 season, and they've got a one-game lead on everyone else in the conference. They've got a favorable schedule down the stretch, with all their toughest opponents at home. But if they're going to use that home-court advantage to win their first conference title since the Eisenhower administration, they're going to need your help. They're going to need your noise. They're going to need your momentum-building cheers after big threes from Randle, your stifling roar on defense as they try to stem an opponent's run, your fervored distraction during free throw attempts. More that just about any sport I know, the roar of a crowd can turn a basketball game the home team's favor, but if we want it to turn the Bears' favor, we're going to have to show up in numbers and bring a little frenzy with us.
Now, I think it's important to note that I am not merely an athletic department shill. Frankly, Cal Athletics won't return CGB's calls, and you could best describe our relationship with them as 'nonexistent'. Personally, I don't care how many tickets they sell to these games, or whether they make any money at all. Buy your tickets from scalpers if you can get a better deal. Heck, sneak into the game for all I care -- it doesn't matter to me if you pay your way in, so long as you're vocal in your support for your Golden Bears once you're inside. (Protip: if you wear a straw hat and carry a musical instrument, it's pretty easy to sneak in the front door; they smile and wave you right on by.)
The important thing is that you're there, supporting this very deserving team. So when the Bears make a big bucket, I want you loud. When the Bears are on defense, I want you loud. When the opposing team takes a timeout and the band strikes up 'Big "C"', I want you singing along loudly. When it's time for the anthropomorphic Odwalla bottle race...well, actually, the Odwalla race is stupid. You should use that time to buy a hot dog or go to the can or something. Just so long as you're back in your seat in time for when the game begins again.
Finally, I know I'm not alone in this because KoreAmBear has posted a call to arms in much the same vein over at BearInsider. Here, I"m going to finish by just copy/pasting his entire post below.
Dear Cal men's basketball fans, our team is in a dogfight to win the Pac-10 title for the first time in 50 years and need every one of these next four home games desperately. Not only is the title involved, these games concern whether we receive a ticket to the NCAA tournament ("the Big Dance") and as well maximizing our seed when we do make the Big Dance.
Here's what you can do: 1) fill up Haas. Show up and go to as many of the last four as posssible. 2) when you are there, do not be passive. Our team is small, deplete with injuries and does not have much depth. You can be the extra player on the bench (pun intended). Do not WAIT for a great play to happen. Will our team to victory.
Make noise, be demonstrative, bring signs, join in chants and even stand on certain possessions. It's been well documented that a great crowd feeds into confidence and better play, as well as demoralizing the other team.
Our players have said that they don't feel like they get the support that some of the other teams in the Pac-10 get. That's a shame on us, especially coming from a tradition of the greatest home venue in the Pac-10, Harmon Gym. But we have four games to disprove this notion. And I am sure you will. Please pass this on to as many Cal fans who could make any of the next four games. Time to roar and rock the Haas again. Go Bears!
See you all on Thursday evening! Go Bears!