The lights go out, the music starts, and everyone is on their feet. While you may be picturing a concert, I’m thinking of something just as cheer-worthy—Midnight Madness.
Often in sports, the excitement before a season is filled with optimism (unless you’re a fan of a team you know is downright awful). There are new players, a fresh start is on the horizon, and there is a ‘0’ in the loss column.
Professional sports across the globe receive plenty of hype. I’d argue that college sports are different. The fandom is more tight-knit. And while football has the Spring Game, that event (in my opinion at least, but hey, I didn’t go to Alabama), pales in comparison to the glorious oh-so American event called Midnight Madness.
At Syracuse they call it Orange Madness, and it’s been a huge deal in the Dome for quite a few years now. Now I know not everyone goes to a school where basketball is big enough to host an event of this kind. But this is Syracuse. The Orange has done it big lately, doing all it can to hype up some of the best SU basketball squads in years.
SU’s 2013 incarnation is coming up, on October 18th, and will probably be crazy considering the team is coming off a Final Four appearance. And nowadays, many of these events are aired on television. This is where college sports have an advantage over pro sports. They can have a party aired on television and call it Midnight Madness. I’ll be watching as an alum this year, and I expect fireworks (not literally, but if it were outside, I wouldn’t put that past SU).
Nothing gets me more ready for basketball season than seeing the players and Jim Boeheim roll into the Dome in cars, fire trucks, etc. For that moment, the team seems invincible, ready to dominate any opponent that steps on the court. In my time at Syracuse, we had singers come, performers roll through, you name it. It was the best of opening acts.
Technically, the University of Maryland created Midnight Madness. But my biased self believes that Syracuse does it best. You wouldn’t know it from football, but ‘Cuse fans can fill a stadium. Midnight Madness, albeit at 8 or 9 pm, is an event we look for in sports. It’s a guaranteed win.
Midnight Madness is a non-stressful sporting event. You see the players, have all the fun and games, and leave the arena thinking your team is going undefeated.
There’s great sports events in October—the NFL and college football, the MLB playoffs, NHL hockey, the eve of the NBA season, etc. But none of those are one night of sports in which there is just one team, one goal, and sheer excitement. It’s been too long since that loss to Michigan in the Final Four. Last season was great. But myself, along with many others, are ready for a new season to begin. High expectations are abound.
Once the games start, it’s mostly business (the fun comes with the wins). But Midnight Madness is the introduction. And despite the event blowing up into a whole to-do, it still provides the feeling that fans want from sports, aside from actually winning: the idea that your team will, in fact, win.