Where Have You Gone CIA? ASUCI and Eater Nation Need to Step It Up

At traditional athletic powerhouse universities, refraining from standing or participating in student section antics is simply not an option. The inherent tendency to be rowdy, crazy and intimidating to the visiting team becomes a contagious atmosphere because people see everyone else embarrassing themselves and lose that “too cool for this” attitude, too. At UC Irvine, partly due to our usually less than dominating status as a team, the constant standing and heckling does not exist. However, in years past, the Completely Insane Anteaters student fan group, otherwise known as CIA, at least provided one section of aforementioned standing and heckling. This year, the ASUCI-based Eater Nation has largely failed at doing anything but give away free things at the tailgate.

Last year, ASUCI decided to boost attendance and school spirit by creating Eater Nation, heavily advertising blackout nights and creating numerous tailgates. This year, they extended the student section to include the entire side across from the players benches, increased from just a few sections before. There is also a nifty new student entrance that leads directly to the floor level.

These changes have worked out well enough, and last year the Bren did draw 4,000+ for the Oregon game and a reported record student turnout for the “blackout” night versus Cal State Northridge. However, Eater Nation came at the expense of the CIA, which was vital for in-game rousing and cheer leading. The completely student run club, in a one-sided decision, had its funding cut and its responsibilities replaced by ASUCI.

This year, with most of the old CIA leaders graduated, games have been dreadfully lackluster in spirit leading. Eater Nation apparently noticed this and created “Peter’s Leaders,” which featured tryouts announced on a Facebook event. Unfortunately, thus far any leading has been nonexistent. New fans are not getting down the basic U… C… I… fight! U-C-I-ZOT-FIGHT-FIGHT-FIGHT chant, and even worse, people are still clapping and cheering sloppily after made free throws. The raised hand “Zot Zot Zot” pump is UCI’s version of Texas’ hook ‘em horns or Duke’s whoosh. Unity after free throws is an important tradition in college basketball, and it just sounds cool. At the beginning of the season, no one even knew to line up along the sidelines to high five the players running back into the locker room after a win. These CIA traditions were a nice touch of moral support for the players, and things seem lackluster without them. Peter’s Leaders’ last chance to get it together is the start of conference play. The Bren needs people who know when to tell people to stand, when to get pumped, while managing witty disses and entertaining jeers.

While on the topic of cheers and student section antics, The Payoff Pitch has a few more suggestions.

Let’s cut out the “UC REJECTS” and “If you can’t go to college go to state” chants. (For those freshmen who have not yet heard this chant, it goes something like this: “If you can’t go to college go to state, if you can’t go to college go to state. Ifyoucan’tgotocollegeandyoureallyreallySUCK! if you can’t go to college go to state.” This goes to the tune of “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.”) They are not only inane, but uncreative. The latter chant/song cannot even be understood from far distances. Besides, it is not like the players themselves were rejected by UC’s. I am sure most of them chose to go to the CSU’s over schools like UCI. I’d rather create chants boosting our own team. Let us chant the names of our own players that are on fire. This has only happened once in my memory, but I could feel the positive energy pushing the team on.

In terms of deterring the other team, the free throw line is our time to shine. Instead of dully roaring, the crowd should stay in absolute silence before spontaneously bursting into piercingly obnoxious noises. This would undoubtedly distract the shooters, especially combined with the brilliant moving neon dot posters that the Anteater band so brilliantly sports.

Of course, this column is largely a moot point if you all, the UCI student body, do not attend the next UC Irvine men’s basketball game. Yes, this can even mean driving down to Long Beach State on Saturday, the 9th, to support our ’Eaters on the road. Go beyond going to the games just for the free stuff and leaving at halftime. Remind the folks in ASUCI and Eater Nation that artificially inflated attendance numbers are not necessarily the answer to higher school spirit. In-game cheers and crowd participation is just as important, if not more crucial for the unity of the student body and the benefit of our basketball team.