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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“It doesn’t get “”wilder”” than this”

Arizona Athletics’ recent construction of a 7-foot wall in front of the ZonaZoo section is yet another example of spending gone wrong at this university. Regardless of where the money came from, or what department spent it, the spending was unnecessary and stifling to the collegiate sports atmosphere. Treating students the way Gov. Jan Brewer wants to treat illegal immigrants is probably tied with bike valet for the second worst idea of the 2010-11 school year, with fingerprint scanners at the Student Recreation Center leading the pack. The athletics department should forward the contractor’s contact information to Brewer or any other supporters of constructing a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, considering the startlingly rapid pace at which the ZonaZoo wall was built.  

After the Wildcats took a slim lead over the University of Oregon Ducks in a nationally televised Pacific 10 Conference football game last season, masses of fans began to leap over the railings of the student section and sections throughout the stadium. The only problem was the game wasn’t over. Security at the game kept fans from reaching the playing field but failed to return them to the seating sections.

Then, former Oregon quarterback and known laptop thief and marijuana enthusiast Jeremiah Masoli led the Ducks to a touchdown and thwarted the UA’s hopes of a Pac-10 title and a Rose Bowl berth. In celebration, some Oregon players ran to celebrate with their fans on the western side of the stadium, while others felt the need to gloat in front of the ZonaZoo section, which was justifiably disgruntled. Waves of water bottles, both full and empty, began to rain down upon the eventual Pac-10 champs. Several players were hit, but most notably, an Oregon cheerleader was knocked to the ground and later received medical attention. The Arizona Athletics cited that ill-fated game as impetus for the wall, selling the idea as a safety precaution.

Unfortunately, a 7-foot wall isn’t going to stop a cheerleader from getting pelted in the head by a water bottle lofted from 15 rows up. A wall isn’t going to stop an intoxicated fan from thinking that he or she can jump the wall before toppling end over end to the other side, and realistically, a wall isn’t going to stop fans from finding alternatives to accessing the field. I’m not advocating for fans to be chucking garbage at teams that defeat us, but only personal restraint and a touch of class can prevent that — not a wall. As long as the stellar event security that allowed uninformed and unaware fans to rush the field too early in the Oregon game is still employed by the university, fans will find a way onto that field. Now that they’ve “”caged the zoo,”” fans aren’t going to be safer or better behaved — they’re going to be angrier.  

This is another example of why the UA just doesn’t have the clout when it comes to collegiate sports atmosphere. Think of some of the craziest student fans in the country. I think of the Duke Cameron Crazies. They’re always loud, proud, and you’ll never see a wall in front of them.  You’ll always see a mob of blue and white on the basketball court when they beat UNC because the administration knows how important it is to them and the university’s national image. Why else do you think it was a big deal when College GameDay came to campus last year? National exposure. Media markets are more than willing to showcase fans who are truly wild and capture their emotion with every play. When a rival falls and the fans rush the field, anybody watching at home stays tuned and thinks, “”That would be amazing to experience.””

The UA has never been and unfortunately will never be accepted or respected in the world of collegiate sports when it comes to fans and atmosphere. Collegiate sports are always regarded as interesting because there are so many outside events other than pure talent that play into the outcome of a game. On paper, there’s no way we should have even been on the same field as the Oregon Ducks, but there’s just something about home field advantage, and locking up the students — arguably your loudest fans — is the fastest way to lose it.  

The wall isn’t going to stop anybody who’s determined to celebrate. The wall is just another disappointing example of money spent by a university that’s bleeding.

— Storm Byrd is a political science sophomore. He is also a student organizer for UAVotes, which is run by Arizona Students’ Association. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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