Spring without sunshine, Halloween without candy corn and Gonzaga basketball without the Kennel. And the category is, of course, things that just aren’t the same without the other.
In recent months, there has undoubtedly been a shift in basketball culture on campus that was apparent as far back as December 2019. With a plethora of leftover tickets to the student section and masses of students abandoning the already-secured game at half time, the legendary GU Kennel appeared to be going extinct.
The infamous empty seats in the Kennel caught the attention of sports journalists and former Zags all offering their theories as to what could have caused the student section vacancies.
From the corporatization of Kennel Club to the monotonous repetition of watching a game with a 30+ point difference, no one’s speculations could explain exactly why it seemed like students just didn’t care about basketball anymore.
Now, almost a year and a half later, the same scene begs the question: what happened to GU basketball?
In all fairness, I was never the paint-your-chest-and-wait-in-the-cold-for-hours type of basketball fan, but I paid enough attention to at least pass as a good Zag.
One of the victims of our world now marred by the effects of COVID-19 is the Kennel: the mecca for Zags to be Zags. Students packed together in red, white and blue clothing and outlandish costumes with even wilder signs now seems like a distant memory fading into the back of our minds, and with it perhaps lies the sensationalism of GU basketball.
A typical conversation about basketball in my house or with my friends will go something like this:
“Hey, the basketball team won today.”
“Oh, cool. There was a game?”
Thus concludes the conversation, and that is the extent to which basketball is ever discussed nowadays.
There are of course those students who bleed GU blue and will absolutely come for me on Twitter once this is published, especially with March Madness right around the corner. Some of them are right here in the Bulletin newsroom.
But I would venture to say a creeping majority of students have simply lost interest in the phenomenon that is GU basketball. Perhaps what is lost may have been a feigned enjoyment of the sport in the first place.
Without the bright lights and spirited atmosphere, is GU basketball after all just…basketball?
Honestly, the lack of enthusiasm for basketball is kind of a relief for me. I no longer have to try to figure out what emotion everyone around me is experiencing after an apparently controversial call is made by the referee.
Plus, the number of times I could say I “had to study” to avoid going to an 8 p.m. game on a Wednesday night was quickly dwindling. I’m a journalism major, how much studying could I possibly have?
Now don’t get me wrong, both the women’s and men’s teams are accomplishing outstanding achievements and they deserve all the praise and hype they get. Besides, it’s always nice to be able to flex your school’s athletic program on a national level.
But something has fundamentally changed in the way basketball is celebrated among Zags.
People will still repost the nicely designed victory infographics to their Instagram stories and retweet that one Sports Illustrated cover, because let’s be honest, that was pretty cool. But as Indie-pop singer, Rex Orange County once said, “it’s not the same anymore.”
So, I pose this question to you, readers of the Bulletin (who hopefully aren’t too angry about this semi-controversial take), what do you think happened to GU basketball?