Nothing like the real thing at Walton

By: Nate Allen
Published: Saturday, December 15, 2012
NWA Media/MICHAEL WOODS  --11/30/2012--  University of Arkansas coach talks to his team during the second half of Friday nights game at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville
Photo by Michael Woods
NWA Media/MICHAEL WOODS --11/30/2012-- University of Arkansas coach talks to his team during the second half of Friday nights game at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville

— The Walton Arena crowd energy was good for the Arkansas Razorbacks’ big basketball games against Syracuse and Oklahoma.

It would have been great had the UA brass allowed the energy naturally to ferment instead of suffocating it in artificial noise.

Unfortunately, the marketing suits operating “game management” throughout college athletics these days don’t have a clue their artificial noise can kill crowd fervor in an arena like Colonel Mustard offing Miss Scarlett with a candlestick in the conservatory.

Since Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson was an assistant to Nolan Richardson during the Razorbacks’ salad days at Walton Arena and Richardson’s Barnhill Arena days, he would be well served to show these newcomers some old game footage and some of the games Eddie Sutton coached before Richardson arrived.

The parts those crowds and spirit groups actively played generating unprecedented success were as pivotal as Arkansas folk heroes Sidney Moncrief and Corliss Willliamson actually doing the deeds on the court.

Nothing so frazzled the opposition into frantically calling timeouts amid a sea of turnovers than the crowd’s one-of-a kind Razorbacks roar.

Now for those situations, the UA is generically apt to punch in pre-programmed noise that muffles the crowd.

Artificial noise is artificial noise whether an arena has 200 or 20,000.

It’s easy for the opposition to tune it out because from pregame on most everyone attending tunes it out.

Just another day in the NBA, which unfortunately is the atmosphere that today’s college basketball markets seem to be striving to achieve. Apparently, they all attended the same seminar and left robotically programmed to make every crowd sound alike, which most NBA crowds tend to do.

Playing 81 games to eliminate a handful of also-rans before advancing to endless playoffs, like the NBA does, leaves scant urgency for the type of atmosphere the college game foments.

So the pros tried creating it by blaring “We will, we will rock you.”

Now, at Walton Arena, the Hogwild Band sometimes sits on its hands as “We will, we will rock you” artificially prevails as the crowd sends text messages.

There seems to be as much or more canned stuff than the real thing at Walton Arena, and the same can be said for football games at Reynolds Razorback Stadium, too.

It shows for the worse, especially when an impromptu, crowd-generated Hog call is stifled by competing noise blaring without rhyme or reason.

It’s madness to see Arkansas and other bastions of college basketball voluntarily give up the atmosphere that the NBA coveted. Instead, it seems the colleges covet the generic alternative that the pros came to accept.

For those growing up knowing no better, like the kid who never expanded his taste buds beyond McDonald’s, it’s no big deal.

However, to those Arkansas fans and alumni who savored the Razorbacks basketball experience that soared uniquely above the generic norm, it’s a lost treasure to lament.

Kind of like a wandering, old UA grad returning some distant day to find a Chili’s or Taco Bell where Herman’s and Hugo’s still thrive.

Sports, Pages 22 on 12/15/2012