Since working at Bradley, I have, over time, become a Braves basketball fan. I learned a lot about the players when researching for a publication after the Braves went to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen. I was very impressed by what I read, saw, and heard about these remarkable young men. Every once in a while I would see them on campus and was very impressed by how they interacted with others. They spend so much time in the spotlight but maintain humility.
I followed the team closely this year, so, when they played the first round of the NIT tournament at home, I had to get tickets. The atmosphere from the get go was electric as we took on a Big East team, Providence. The teams seemed very evenly matched and the score stayed quite close. I totally got into the game and wanted to cheer on our players, who were outmatched in size, but not in heart or determination.
I stood up, jumped, threw my fists in the air, and cheered on the team.
"Ma'am, could you sit down," I heard someone call.
"What," I said, turning around, "this is very exciting."
"I know," said the gentleman, "but my wife can't see. There's an appropriate time to stand."
I sat down.
Bradley's lead dropped. The game tied.
In the post-game show on WMBD, Coach Les and the players said they couldn't believe the support they received from the crowd. "They were loud.!"
Bradley players have a lot of heart. Bradley fans love their team, but have a disconcerting habit of being a little staid. They cheer and stand at "appropriate" times. If they'd look across the arena at the student section, however, they'd see some people who love the game and their team. They'd see people on their feet and cheering for the entire game.
Jim Les is trying hard to build an exciting, first-class program. Fans need to join in that effort, remember this is basketball, not the symphony, and stand up and cheer!
Whenever they feel like it.