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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Does the ZonaZoo really present a home-field advantage in Arizona Stadium?

Zi Yang Lai
The Wildcats enter the field before playing against Washington State in a half full Arizona Stadium on Oct. 24.

The ZonaZoo’s passion is evident during basketball season, but the student body often overlooks football season.

Athletic director Greg Byrne and head football coach Rich Rodriguez both proclaimed the ZonaZoo to be the best student section in the country. Rodriguez even said he goes around the country and praises the passionate fan base.

I get it, this is what they get paid for — their job is to make everything seem better than it may be. No point in pointing out the negatives, right? Well, let’s break down the ZonaZoo’s diehard passion.

Related: Gameday guide on how to become an Arizona Wildcats diehard.

With so many transplants from other states in the fickle bandwagon atmosphere that encompasses Tucson, it is easy to see why basketball gets more support than football. Arizona has established tremendous success from virtually nothing over the past 30 years and continues to show glimpses of national championship possibilities. Football, on the other hand, has had no such success.

Arizona’s football program has shown flashes of what could be, but nothing that has stood the test of time. Names like Bruschi and Gronkowski ring a bell, but those guys don’t come around very often and when they do, they aren’t playing for national championships.

The Wildcats have always fluttered around average, causing there to be a lack of die-hard support for the program. A city of around 500,000 people in the metro area alone can’t sell out a game versus a top-10 ranked Utah team, but can sell out an exhibition against Chico State for basketball. That’s essentially all you need to know about the state of fans in Tucson.

It is a shame, yes. But at the same time, the athletic department has not done itself any favors.

The canceling of the spring game and opting for an open practice, the canceling of an open house and the lack of sight in the community is disheartening. Fans will get a thousand e-mails every week as to why they should visit, “Our House” as the athletic department puts it, but it never truly feels like you’re welcome. It’s a temporary visit, not a permanent stay.

Related: Arizona football touts its talents in the annual Beanie Bowl.

I have had the fortune to visit other college campuses around the country and every athletic department has issues in some way. However, the atmosphere, no matter what the facility or how bad the team, is dictated by the fan base. Always has been, always will be.

The ZonaZoo has been asked, better, told not to leave until the end of the game. Should that really have to be requested? This year, the ZonaZoo and Tucson better step up, especially when the team will need every fan possible to get every win it can.

Follow Saul Bookman on Twitter

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