Take Me Back to Wakanda: The Standard Experience at an HBCU Basketball Game
Recently, I attended a basketball game at a PWI. The facility was nice ya’ll. Beautiful displays with the accomplishments from their alumni. An indoor track. Classroom spaces. Dance room. Oooooo and YALL … they even had an elevator for you to go to the top floor. I said to myself …. “Ooooooooooooh! Ya’ll got some money.” This gym was no comparison to the gym I attended my college games in that had zero air conditioning and concrete bleachers.
But anyways … when it was time to call out the hometeam, the lights in the gym shut off. I got a little nervous but I held it together. Then BOOM, the strobe lights and the announcer yells “IT’S SHOOOOOOOWTIIIIIIIMEEEEE!” Bruh, is LeBron James about to come out?!!? What is ya’ll doing?!?! The announcer was calling out the players like we were at a NBA game. The fans were all standing and clapping. The cheerleaders were building pyramids and had those big poster board signs that read “GO, FIGHT, WIN!” Honey, my young HBCU eyes were in awe and slick jealous. They had a whole production to announce the players. And this aint’ a cheap production. Do you know how much it costs to get strobe lights (similar to the ones used for movie premiers) inside a gym? For a BASKETBALL GAME? I don’t either but I know we couldn’t afford it. Hell! We didn’t have AIR!
HOW-freakin-EVER, the jealousy stopped as soon as the game started. Yup. They did tip off and all the energy went downhill. I realized this game lacked more seasoning than the green beans at Piccadilly. And whoever named that restaurant Piccadilly needs to be sued - sorry - I digress.
So you know me, I start comparing this college experience to my own. I realized the HBCU experience at a game has several key elements. These elements make it not just a game but an EXPERIENCE. Keep reading and let’s see if you agree …
1. Unannounced Student Sections - No one ever told the baseball team to sit at the top of the balcony or the Kappas to take the first row on the right side or the royal court to sit in the center but at an HBCU everyone has their reserved sections. What you NOT gon’ do is disrupt this pattern of seating and sit yo happy butt in the wrong area. We abide by the silent code and take our respective placement seriously because this arrangement does not come without responsibility. If you are going to sit in your section, then you need to hold down your section. When it’s time to stroll, STROLL. When it’s time to wave, WAVE. When it’s time to chant, CHANT. Govern yourselves … accordingly.
2. Participate in All School Chants - Ya’ll we sat through two basketball games and did not hear the crowd start not one solitary chant or hear the cheerleaders call a cheer. This would be a violation in the code of HBCU culture. If someone says FORT VALLEEEEEEEEEYY - you yell back ---- WHOOP! WHOOP! If someone says PC ONE TIME - you yell --- P.C.! If someone says IF YOU AINT A RAM - you yell back --- THEN YOU AINT S*&$! At the end of the day and at the top of the morning, the entire gym participates in all school chants.
Stomp Shake or Die - While the new series Cheer on Netflix features some of the most talented cheerleaders in America (and we all love Jerry with his mat talk), they do not have the stomp shake factor. We expect our cheerleaders to create an earthquake and stomp a hole in the floor. No soprano notes over here. Each cheer will start at the alto level with the brothers holding down the tenor section. It’s powerful. It’s packed with bass. And better believe we gon’ shake.
3. Students - Remember I said the fans were all standing and clapping when they called out the players. Notice that I did not say students. Honey, I don’t know where they were but they were not at that gym.
Game night is a thing on an HBCU campus. Not only are we there to support the team but we must look good while doing it. It’s damn near a fashion show. And you already know someone is hosting a party after the game. It’s LIT!
4. DJ or Band: Choose your poison - Whether we have your on campus DJ on the 1’s and 2’s or your band takes up 20% of the seating in the stands, MUSIC IS A MUST! The DJ/Band must be in sink with the game. They can orchestrate the environment and potentially motivate our team to a win. Along with the cheerleaders, student section and dance team, the music provides another level of entertainment. I can remember when our school was losing at a huge game. Fans from the opposing team stood up and started chanting for their school. Our DJ hit a quick scratch on the turntable and blasted Maceo’s Sit Down. BABYYYYYYY WE WENT IT …. *clears throat* and we won the game *flips hair*
Check out this video from back in the day. The Aggie’s would play this song when a player fouled out (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4d7WJpI5XHM)
In conclusion, all I kept thinking at that game was THANK GOD I WENT TO AN HBCU.
I think I have given you enough to reminisce about today. Now go back to work before Nosey Nancy comes up to your desk trying to see what you lookin’ at … xoxo