The Athletics Department, in collaboration with Los Locos and ASUSF Superfund, kicked off the opening of the basketball season practices with Midnight Madness last Friday, Oct. 15. Midnight Madness hosted a variety of student performances to a relentless crowd of USF students, who mostly talked through and verbally criticized performers throughout the night.
Although some audience members cheered in support of student performers like the Spirit Squad, Hawaiian Ensemble, and the USF Marching Band, a wave of “boos” bolstered through the crowds as emcees for the night Anthony Rivera and Joe Famularo asked how the audience liked the dancing skit presented by USF’s baseball team.
According to Kyle Janzen, director of ticketing and promotions in the Athletics Department, positive student feedback he has gotten over the last three years included the free barbecue and basketball team performances. To address this, student organizations and other athletic teams were invited to perform at this year’s event.
Of the athletic teams, “baseball was the only team that stepped up and did anything,” Janzen said. The baseball team performed a dance to Britney Spears’ 1998 hit “…Baby One More Time.” About halfway through the performance, the teammates removed their sweaters to expose their bare chests and midriffs, while one danced at center with his shirt tucked similarly to Spears’ outfit in her debut music video. Some of the crowd reacted with delight, but others expressed their dismay by yelling negative remarks and continuing to boo through to the end.
USF’s Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc. performed a salute, a tradition of marching combined with military-like greetings. Ramsey Hanna, a USF alum and fraternity member, opened the salute with a brief speech about the organization. “Don’t be scared,” he said, warning the crowd, for a salute can appear intense for those that are not accustomed to it.
As the fraternity marched out onto the court, one of their members who couldn’t walk properly due to a physical disability eventually fell to his knees as he failed to keep up with those marching in front and behind him (bodies march in very close proximity, practically hip to hip). Once the audience noticed this, laughter broke out in sections throughout the top bleachers, as two fraternity members struggled to raise him to his feet.
Throughout the performance, he had limited control of his body and did his best to perform at the rate of the others. All the while, the audience broke out in laughter when the performance highlighted him on his own.
Jack Torres, one of the performing fraternity members, said, “he has a disability; he can barely walk…But that’s why we weren’t sure if we should have him on but then he wanted it [to perform]. Luckily my LB [line brother] was there to keep him up and we kept marching.”
Apathetic reactions continued throughout the night, as emcees Rivera and Famularo conducted a human wave throughout the crowd. The first wave was done successfully, but as Famularo attempted to “return the wave” from the ending side, none of the audience members made an effort to follow along.
“We tried!” Rivera said. “This school is not really known for a lot of things, so I know [school] spirit is kind of down a little bit but we do our best to try to get spirit up… we don’t care whether or not we get booed or we get rejected as long as we have fun doing it and we know we got spirit within ourselves.”
Famularo said, “I feel every single year keeps improving and improving. When I started out here, there was definitely a lot less school spirit then there is now so. I think all the other students have to see that its okay to have fun.”
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. performed a step and stroll routine. Although the four performing ladies received little sarcastic remarks from the crowd in the beginning (including a male student who yelled out “I want to be a Delta!”), their performance sparked a change of mood one-third into their routine. By the end of their hard-hitting and attitude-filled presentation, the crowd reacted positively from there on out.
Sophomore Sara Zuniga, a member of Lambda Theta Nu Sorority, Inc., supported her fellow Greek colleagues with positive remarks throughout their performances. “I was very embarrassed for the school because it shows how much lack of knowledge and ignorance there is here,” she said. “People need to stop being ignorant and learn that if they don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all. What gives you the right to be talking about other people who go up there and show what they have and who actually do something with their lives and have a passion? Don’t be hating on something you don’t know, and learn to respect. You’re in college. You’re an adult. You should know how to respect.”
Other performances included the men’s and women’s basketball teams who performed their own dance skits. The men’s basketball team made a parody of a Justin Bieber routine, including a member who was dressed up as Bieber himself. By the end of the performance, he was carried out in the arms’ of his teammates.
The women’s basketball team danced to the likes of Beyonce singles, and the performance included a special appearance by three of the women’s basketball coaches.
This was the first year that Midnight Madness was less “basketball-centered” and represented more of the student community, said Janzen of the Athletics Department.
Overall, Midnight Madness welcomed about 1000 students, who filled an entire side of the bleachers. Bon Appetit catered the event, and food ran out by the end of the night.
“We were pleased with the turnout,” Janzen said, “and the reaction of the crowd, I mean they’re tough. There’s a large distance between them and the performances. So your ability to engage in the performances was really taken away.”
In terms of the development of the crowd’s behavior from unsympathetic to seemingly more accepting, Janzen said “I think crowds always warm up. You look at general events and the crowds will loosen up.”
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