I'm just now starting to get over the soreness. My back has been aching from the night spent in unsuccessful pursuit of sleep on the stone floor at Hutch, and I rolled my ankle while playing basketball earlier Sunday night. Apart from these few minor scrapes, however, I emerged from the men's basketball ticket line unscathed and, more importantly, hugely impressed by the efforts of the Penn Athletic Department. I blame myself for not taking part in this tradition earlier in my Penn career. I've gone to almost every home game in my two previous years as a student, but I just never got up the gumption to park myself in The Line at the Palestra. Most of the reports I received from the previous two Lines were essentially positive. People loved getting a chance to hang out with their friends in unique and memorable circumstances. It was, they said, the type of event that made a perfect college story, the kind of crazy thing you only do as an undergraduate and laugh about over a beer 20 years later. There were also a few comments that basically boiled to down to self-congratulation. "I love camping out; I'm a true fan," somebody might say. What I didn't have a real sense of before this past weekend was the amount of hard work that members of the Athletic Department put into the two days of waiting. What I didn't understand is that The Line is as much a celebration of the loyalty of Penn fans as it is a demonstration of that loyalty. I'm usually not the first person to pat Penn athletic officials on their collective back, but this time I really have to. Anybody that spent Saturday and Sunday at Hutch owes a debt of gratitude to the people from Penn Athletics who put time into planning and executing The Line. Except for the tropical temperatures and humidity levels, it was much more of a user-friendly experience than I expected it to be. Rather than pulling a Tom Bodett and just leaving the lights on for us, the folks in charge gave us a TV so we could watch the World Series, bought enough pizza to feed a starting five of circus elephants, gave away a ton of prizes, woke us up gently in the morning and generally made the two days much more than bearable. That's not to say that I think that Penn does everything it can for its loyal Quakers supporters. Maybe they could give Midnight Madness a shot in the near future. It seems, at least to me, that Fran Dunphy's team has enough of a committed following that the Palestra would be at least partially full for a dramatic start to practice. Still, there's no doubt that The Line is well done. It not only gives student fans a chance to secure the best seats available, but also makes them feel wanted. Did Athletic Director Steve Bilsky's speech about his experience with The Line move me? Not really. But it did make me feel like I was appreciated. If there's one thing that Penn students have in abundance, it's an aggressively healthy sense of entitlement. As a result, it didn't surprise me that I heard some grumbling from the folks around. Some people didn't like the line leaders; others were miffed about the new wrinkle in the student seating plan; still others had their own complaints. A friend of mine even said that last year, when a dinner of hoagies was presented before the folks waiting in line, more than a few began to angrily ask, "Hey, where are the cheesesteaks?" That sort of attitude is really out of joint. You are students that are about to purchase season tickets and thereby give a chunk of money over to the Athletic Department -- and that should entitle you to a certain amount of respect. Should it entitle a free cheesesteak? No. I feel bad that I didn't thank everybody at The Line for their hard work over the two days, because they definitely deserved it. Next year, I hope it's back at the Palestra; it'll probably be a bit more special there. Nevertheless, this year was a success in my book. All the fans lined up last weekend were there to demonstrate their allegiance to Penn, and Penn did a good job of showing its gratitude.Comments powered by Disqus
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