Basketball season is upon GW once again. And to highlight the only sport at the University that could be considered high profile, the Student Activities Center and Athletic Department staged their annual Midnight Madness spectacle. Despite good intentions and obvious effort, organizers missed the basket with this air ball.
Midnight Madness, which marks the official beginning of the college basketball season, drew a capacity crowd at the Smith Center. Students and their families filed into the arena and stretched in lines around the block even before the players began to arrive. The large crowd partially can be attributed to scheduling the event during Family Weekend for the third straight year. While this brings more people to the event, perhaps in an effort to gear the show toward families, the interests of students were unfortunately pushed aside.
Midnight Madness appeared to be more a carnival than a celebration of GW basketball. With jugglers, roller-skaters, pyrotechnics and other circus-like acts, the idea of pumping up the University’s basketball program was lost in the mix. In fact, by the time the teams were introduced and took the court to show off their skills, most of the audience had left. The arena was less than half full for the most important part of the evening – basketball.
The quality of the evening’s events was inconsistent at best. The technical wizardry and special effects were dazzling, but the actual entertainment left something to be desired. The skit involving the “little” and “big” Georges and the University of Maryland terrapin got the crowd fired up, but music and announcements were unintelligible because the sound system was poor. The emcee was hokey. The roller-skating act, which resembled a poor ice-skating ballet on wood, was anything but exciting.
Midnight Madness cost the University tens of thousands of dollars. The pyrotechnics and lighting alone were very expensive. Factor in performers’ fees, the money spent on Smith Center workers and overtime for police officers, and the University paid a high price for the event. In light of the fact that very few people stayed to actually watch the basketball exhibition, perhaps the University should rethink its spending.
If the purpose of Midnight Madness was to get students excited about the upcoming basketball season, it sorely failed. The real purpose of the event – the men’s and women’s practices – was an afterthought, a major disappointment for the thousands of GW basketball fans in attendance. In the future, the high point of Midnight Madness should be the introduction of the GW basketball teams.