Now basketball is my favorite sport
I like the way they dribble up and down the court
I like slam-dunks that take me to the hoop
My favorite play is the alley-oop
See my game consist of whole lotta…..
Moves you would think I learned from the Harlem Globetrotters
Lil Bow Wow feat. Jermaine Dupri, Fabolous, and Fundisha
Since James Naismith created the game in 1891, basketball has become imbedded in the social fabric of the United States. Basketball is the third most popular high school sport for males and the second most popular high school sport for females in the U.S. as of 2010. It’s popular on the collegiate and professional levels, too—think about the coverage “March Madness” and the NBA finals receive. Names like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Gary Neal are ubiquitous, and teams like the Harlem Globetrotters are known around the world. Considering the prominence of these names and events—and, of course, the popularity of Lil’ Bow Wow’s rendition of Kurtis Blow’s song “Basketball”—one would expect that basketball events and basketball related projects would be popular on Towson’s campus, right?
TU hosted the famous Harlem Globetrotters Wednesday, June 19 through Friday, June 21 as the first sporting event held in the brand new, state-of-the-art Tiger Arena. The arena was just completed this spring, and its first basketball-related event was a smashing success—a slam dunk, one could say. Not only did the Globetrotters, who performed at Towson despite being out of season, report that their visit was better than their appearance at the Brooklyn Nets’ arena’s opening day, but the 2,700 attendees at each game enjoyed the experience, too.
Towson’s campus had an excited and lively atmosphere during the Globetrotters’ visit and was teeming with bright, energetic faces. As someone who is on campus six days a week during the summer, I can safely say that campus has not seen this amount of people or this level excitement since the spring term ended on May 21. No matter where I was on campus—whether I was sitting outside the Liberal Arts building or walking up to the Administration building—I was inevitably approached by at least two or three people each day asking where the Tiger Arena was. By the last day of the Globetrotters’ visit, I would greet approaching strangers with, “Globetrotters? You can get to the Tiger Arena by…”
But the strength of basketball’s attraction is not limited to the grandeur of world-famous teams or the influence of tremendously popular players. Its appeal is also personal—people bond through both playing and watching basketball together. They root for their hometown and college teams, sharing an investment in the success of the athletes who represent them.
And this is why the decision to build the Tiger Arena was so wise. Just as the reputation and success of TU’s football team was resuscitated in the 2011 season, Towson’s men’s basketball team has been revitalized and is experiencing unprecedented success—which translates to increased incentive for members of Towson’s community to attend games.
One season after setting the NCAA record for most consecutive losses, the men’s basketball team achieved the greatest turnaround in NCAA history. Georgetown transfer Jerrelle Benimon won CAA Player of the Year, among other honors, and head coach Pat Skerry was named CAA Coach of the Year. As someone who has been dunked on by Benimon in pick-up basketball, I can personally attest to his skill on the court (In my defense, I was going easy on him).
Such success, growth and positive attention promotes a larger fan base, and the Tiger Arena is an ideal facility to support both a growing audience and an up-and-coming basketball program. Features include retractable seats, which allow more room for activities and events held in the absence of Tigers’ games; concession stands, which eliminate the need for leaving the arena for snacks and beverages; a state-of-the-art scoreboard system above center court and approximately 60 seats in private suites. But the arena does not only provide exemplary services for the entertainment needs of the Towson community—it is also environmentally friendly, expected to earn LEED Gold certification soon.
The benefits of the Tiger Arena are manifold, and its versatility has already proven itself with the hosting of the Special Olympics, TU’s commencement and over 15 high school graduation ceremonies before the Globetrotters’ visit. Also, basketball camps are currently operating in the arena, which further connect TU with its surrounding community.
And if you’re a basketball fan who missed the Globetrotters and can’t wait for the next NBA season to start, the Tiger Arena offers you another chance to immerse yourself in the basketball world. The leading streetball tour in the nation, Ball Up, will stop at the Tiger Arena on August 10. Similar to the Globetrotters, Ball Up focuses more on entertainment and connecting with the crowd than on competition; games involve both special guest appearances and musical performances.
As a TU student and as a basketball player and fan, I am excited by the Tiger Arena and the possibilities it represents. The men’s basketball team is an emerging national presence, and it now has a stage suitable to showcasing its talent. And this stage is a showcase in its own way, symbolizing the Towson community’s innovative thinking and patent concern for the environment. I imagine that this excitement and pride is shared by all members of the Towson community and that the reaction to the Globetrotters’ visit is just a small preview of things to come. As Kurtis Blow so eloquently wrote:
They’re playing basketball
We love that basketball