It’s the one event every year where students are actually early to an event. It’s the one time a year that students are camping outside to get in first. As a mid-major university lacking a football program, students at UNCG do not have much opportunity for tailgating or camping out early to fight for the best seats in the student section. But for Spartan Madness, all of that changes.
Our basketball team gets out of practice around 4:30 pm, which is roughly two and a half hours before doors open for Spartan Madness. When we walk out of practice, the line is already extended down to the Student Health Center. As a student-athlete, to have people waiting around hours just to see you, it gives you that celebrity appeal.
My favorite part about Spartan Madness is always our individual intros. I take time for at least a week thinking about what my intro song should be. Should it be a song that everybody knows or a song that describes me? Each athlete only gets 10-20 seconds for their introduction, so you have to pick a song with a good beat and good beginning.
I am from Florida—for better or worse, many people listen to Kodak Black, who is from Pompano Beach. His song ‘No Flockin’ has been a nationwide hit for years, but it always hits a little different for people from Florida. I’ve had the privilege to see him perform several times in Florida, and it’s a Florida religion to know the song word-for-word from the moment the first beat drops. Since a lot of people know about Florida’s relationship to Kodak Black, I pick that song, and everyone gets hype to it.
Every year, the Athletic Department tries to find ways to make Spartan Madness different. For my freshman year, both the mens’ and womens’ basketball teams had a joint performance with the UNCG dance team. The most difficult part behind that was trying to make time for both teams to be able to practice and learn the dance moves—the second-most difficult part was getting them to want to dance. In my sophomore year, we took out the dance and added a competition for the students to win free tuition for a year. In my junior year, we kept the introductions, both scrimmages, the three-point competition and the dunk competition. But this year, everything changed.
It seemed that the students wanted more of a homecoming concert, and less of a basketball event. The scrimmages were removed, which I’m not too fond of because it’s the only event that every player can participate in. In place of the scrimmages, we added a game of knockout. In my eyes, it seemed very child-like. Knockout isn’t a type of event that I would expect to see at a college basketball promotional.
The three-point competition and slam dunk competition are always the best basketball parts of Spartan Madness. What made Spartan Madness less about basketball, and more about homecoming, was the inclusion of an hour-long concert between LightSkin Keisha and Young Nudy. I could not name one song by either artist, but it was the kind of energy of the crowd that they wanted. The dance contest took a wild turn of events, seeming to consist of less dancing and more about entertaining the audience.
The homecoming concert needs to be detached from Spartan Madness. Homecoming Week should start with Spartan Madness, continue with the bonfire and campus party, then the block party and soccer game and finish with homecoming concert of artists that the students know. The concerts that UNCG have had in the past are artists that impress the alumni.
But it’s Homecoming. For that Saturday night, there should be another concert for just the students so that they can have what they truly want. Having an hour-long concert at Spartan Madness takes away that celebrity appeal that the basketball players get to have once a year.