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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    commentary: From ASU’s student section to ua’s

    A little more than a year ago today, I was anxiously anticipating my first college football game as a student.

    I had grown up a Georgia Bulldog fan so this was not my first rodeo. I’d been to the Peach Bowl (twice), an SEC Championship game, a Sugar and a Fiesta Bowl, but I was never more excited as I was prior to this game a year ago.

    I was going to be in the student section, adorned in body paint and my team’s colors. I was going to be rowdy, rambunctious and surrounded by thousands of fans just like me.

    The opponent: Northern Arizona.

    The place: Sun Devil Stadium.

    OK, before y’all bombard the newsroom with calls for my head on a platter, let me admit, it took me a little longer to finally see the light, but better late than never, right?

    Anyway, back to the point at hand.

    I was an over eager freshman, and arrived outside the gates hours in advance, with a handful of other fans. As they opened the gates, we stormed up the winding ramps towards the student section, which is spread from about the 40-yard line to the north corner of the stadium, near the entrance, and is smaller than the Zona Zoo by about 3,000 fans.

    As game time approached, I expected the section to fill, and it did, but not nearly to capacity. By kickoff, calling the section half-full would have been generous, and calling the stadium itself half-full would have been a flagrant untruth.

    The team sputtered and was tied with NAU, a Division-I-AA school, in the fourth quarter until a couple of picks, one taken to the house, put the game away.

    I reasoned with myself that the opponent and the game being on a Thursday had both factored into the poor attendance and that in two weeks, it would be better.

    But the transition of summer into fall brought little change. By kickoff on any given home game, the student section was maybe three-quarters full, and never approached capacity, despite being supposedly “”sold out.””

    And the students themselves were simply repulsive. At least one person was arrested at each game for smoking marijuana and a majority of the others were brutally obnoxious to supporters of the opponent, to each other and even to their own team.

    Fast forward to this past Saturday.

    The opponent: Northern Arizona

    The place: Arizona Stadium

    Now the last time I had attended a game here was for the ASU-UA game, so as I’m sure you all have guessed, I have some fond memories of that experience, especially when I had to walk from Section 4 to Section 8, through the Zona Zoo, but that’s another story. But anyway, I had no idea what to expect, as no viable opinion could have been formed from my past experience.

    All that I had to lean on was that it couldn’t have been worse than ASU, right?

    When I arrived at the stadium there were still about 80 minutes until kickoff, but I was shocked at the sea of red that had already claimed the Zona Zoo section. It was nearly three-quarters full, and was completely packed about 30 minutes before kickoff.

    I was utterly blown away. I didn’t expect any resemblance of what I saw, considering the opponent and the dud of a game a week prior.

    But what truly got my attention, was the support with which members treated each other, especially in a time of need.

    With about seven minutes left in the second quarter, a member was forced to sit due to dehydration, to try to regain his stamina and to get back on his feet. But the moment that he sat upon the bench, support came raining down.

    Pats of encouragement on the head and on the back, complete strangers offered their water and even their food to someone whose only connection was that they were both members of the Zona Zoo.

    It was those random acts of kindness and generosity that made me realize that membership was more than the color pass you bought, or what frat or sorority you where in. It was that we were all the same, for this day we were all equal.

    Michael Fitzpatrick is journalism sophomore. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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