-- by @Josh_Suchon
|I'm in the red-black rugby shirt, about 5th row up, next to the railing.|
It was totally worth it.
When I originally compiled my “40 things to do before turning 40 years old” list, watching a San Diego State basketball game with the famously outrageous student rooting section -- known as “The Show” – was intended to be accomplished at a home game at Viejas Arena.
While I’m still hopeful that opportunity presents itself in the next four months, the next-best option manifested Sunday night (for this Los Angeles resident) when the Aztecs played at USC’s Galen Center.
Greg Block, my friend and fellow Daily Aztec alum, drove up from San Diego to join me at the game. We met another Daily Aztec alum, Vinnie Batra, his brother, and what turned into hundreds of other SDSU fans inside The Gastropub Lab before the game.
The tickets I purchased for the game were at the top row of the Galen Center. Upon entry, it was clear this game would not be sold out and we could sit wherever we wanted.
But this was not a time to sit closest to the floor. This was a time to find where The Show was standing (they don’t sit) and join them. Oh yes, you knew the 124 miles between SDSU and USC were not going to stop The Show from exerting its collective will on a non-conference game.
This is pretty stupid, but I’ll admit that I actually had butterflies as we walked over to The Show’s section. What if they looked at us funny? What if we weren’t welcome? Would we have to ask permission to join them? Was there an initiation routine? Is it creepy that two guys who were students 15-20 years ago would join the student rooting section?
Of course, none of that was a problem. We were wearing the right colors. We were welcome. Our age was irrelevant.
|This is "The Show" in action at Viejas Arena.|
Most members are students, or recent graduates. All that’s required, however, is a love of Aztec basketball, and a willingness to create a psychological advantage in the stands that will help SDSU be victorious on the court.
What was fascinating to observe was the interaction between what appeared to be the original members of “The Show” and the younger members, which I’m assuming are current students.
One elder member offered a brief scolding to a front-row member for texting on his cell phone during game action. Another elder reminded a younger to mix up the chants more often. Head nods and acknowledgments were exchanged, like it was Yoda advising Luke.
Some of the highlights of my night and a few thoughts:
* Standing on your feet an entire game and making noise is exhausting. It’s also exhilarating. I can’t fathom doing this at a baseball game or a football game. But the length of a basketball game is perfect. I recommend you do it. It’s a great workout. I easily burned off whatever calories I consumed earlier in the day.
* The Show takes delight in mocking other teams’ fan bases for not being as vocal, animated or creative. This becomes contagious. I even got into the act by taking a photo of some USC fans sitting down during the game, and one was even on her laptop.
* In typical SDSU fashion, a 19-point first half lead was squandered. This allowed the USC fans to cheer their hearts out, return some derisive chants at The Show, and extend a few middle fingers toward The Show. The Aztecs new-found mantra of finding a way to win made this victory extra sweet. Hopefully, neither fan base took things too personal. The Show brought out the best in the Aztecs, but also the best in the USC students. Maybe they learned a few things. It’s college basketball. The environment is supposed to be filled with passion like that every night.
* It’s hard to pick a favorite chant from the night when the options are: the chorus to Muse’s “Uprising”; the school fight song; the pre-game “I Believe” chant; the “No One Likes Us … We Don’t Care” motto; the constant “No-tre Da-me” chants; the post-game “This Is Our House” chant directed at the USC student section; or the “OJ Did It” chant.
* My favorite, however, came immediately after the USC students chanted the usual, “You’re a State School” at The Show. Proud as hell, The Show responded, “We’re a State School.” It was like the final scene in 8 Mile, when Eminem uses every line his opponent is about to use against him and takes ownership of all his inadequacies. Nothing is more liberating than taking ownership of your detractors’ taunts.
* The respect that head coach Steve Fisher and his players give to The Show makes the bond extra special. Fisher went out of his way to thank the fans, unprompted, on his postgame radio interview. Jamaal Franklin once said The Show’s energy makes him go from Mario to Super Mario. Star of the game James Rahon pointed to The Show as he exited the court Sunday night, and posted this later on his Twitter account.
It was a fabulous night, especially for this proud alum, because I rarely indulged in being a ridiculous fanatic as a college student. During my college years, our basketball team sucked. Hardly anybody went to games. The students ignored the team. I was so focused on a future journalism career, I was sitting press row, dressed responsibly, and following the rules of not cheering.
Now? I get the chance to be loud and proud. It’s still hard to fathom how good this program has become, and its uncanny ability to find ways to win games. Let’s be real, it’s a lot easier to be a fan when your team always wins. Thanks to The Show, my age didn’t matter, and I had the most fun of any regular season game of my life.
Next stop: this Saturday in Anaheim, against UCLA.
Hopefully later this year: at Viejas Arena, for a trip inside The Show for a home game.