Last Saturday I had the honor of attending the game between the Villanova Wildcats and Temple Owls. In my recap, I admired the Liacouras Center for its shape, location and seating. I especially applauded the Student Section in this arena, as it took up an entire side of the court behind the basket. Mostly, I was jealous of their usage of rollouts and cutouts.
Temple is ALLOWED to have rollouts pic.twitter.com/Ydx27dwWpr— VUhoops Livetweet (@VUhoopsLive) February 1, 2014
TEMPLE IS ALLOWED CUTOUTS TOO! MUST BE NICE! pic.twitter.com/jVsjyat6sg— VUhoops Livetweet (@VUhoopsLive) February 1, 2014
A few days later I sat in my dorm room watching the St. John's Red Storm vs. Providence Friars and again saw the props used by the Friar faithful. I commented the following:
Keep seeing cutouts in student sections and I want them more than ever. I would definitely get a cutout of myself. It would psych you out.— Ryan Saccoman (@villanova2016) February 5, 2014
To which Emma Taylor, a cheerleader for the Wildcats, responded:
@villanova2016 seriously how do we make cutouts (or hey, I won't be greedy, small signs) happen in the pavilion?— Emma Taylor (@EmmaTaylor17) February 5, 2014
Soon Willy Annan, a very active member of the Augustinian Army, chimed in.
@villanova2016 @EmmaTaylor17 its been talked about before but the Army can try again, im pretty sure its an Athletics rule, it shouldnt— Will E. (@willylaw) February 5, 2014
And that got the ball rolling.
The next day, Willy created a Facebook message group with Emma, Mike Wood, Jake Echoff, Michael Ottaunick and I. First, the group prepared a proposal that would ultimately be placed on Athletic Director Vince Nicastro's desk. To sum up the proposal, two different options were outlined.
Students must bring their signs to the entrance gate no later than 30 minutes before game time. Each prop is checked over by the staff before entrance is admitted. If any sign is deemed inappropriate based on images or language will be confiscated.
Another decision to be made is the extent of allowance for these props, being at all home games, all home conference games, or all home non-conference games.
The Athletics Office will allot a 1 hour period at a specified location in which students can present signs and cutouts to be accepted/denied. All accepted signage would receive an official sticker or stamp of approval and would be kept with Athletics until the day of a game, where students can pick up their sign at a table near the entrance of the Pavilion. In order to pick up the signs, students must:
a). Bring their copy of the approval stamp to verify the item belongs to them, and was approved by Athletics, or
b). Bring their Student Wildcards to ensure each sign belongs to that particular student.
A meeting is currently being set up sometime early next week with a member of the Athletics Department.
Along with this proposal, an online petition was formed on change.org. In providing an electronic signature, the signee shows their support in the addition of these props to the student section. Originally, the group came to a consensus that 250 signatures was enough to at least strengthen the proposal to be presented. Well, that threshold was crossed in a matter of hours, and as of 1:00 am, the petition stood at 525 strong. Keep in mind that this was only in 12 hours. The current goal for the group is 1000. Along with simply a name, signees can reply with a reason for supporting the cause, ranging from "I love the idea!" to recalling their own student section experiences that created excitement.
Pros and Cons
In my opinion, the pros outweigh the cons quite a bit. The only negative that comes to mind is the concern for blocking the views of students behind you. The proposal took this into account by decreeing the props only presentable in timeouts, commercial breaks, and free throws. A second negative that is thrown out is the poor public image that such an addition would present, however an overwhelming number of college student sections already enact this idea. Hence, Villanova is not granting permission to a radical idea; it is on par with other universities.
The positive is the heightened level of intimidation the student section would bring. Jay Wright is constantly praising "the best student section in the country," and the freedom to express each student's creativity will only strengthen Coach's claim. As of late, the band has included a variety of songs during opposing free throws, such as "Sweet Caroline" and "Hey Baby" to even "Row Row Row Your Boat" and an Orientation favorite "Baby Shark." The expression on the opposing bench's faces is priceless, and the results have been very good. The addition of cutouts and rollouts would truly elevate that advantage in home field advantage.
Another update will be given on the progress of this movement. If you have any interest in supporting this motion, fell free to sign the petition here. What are your thoughts on this movement? Is it a sign of poor sportsmanship? Should Villanova follow the lead of other colleges across the nation? Let us know in the comments!