Sports are sports, no matter the view. Regardless of the seat, everyone watches the same game. Sitting court-side, you may see some motions and actions differently than someone sitting in the top row, but the game remains the same.
The game, however, sounds different. From the top row, you hear the fans, the horns and the roar of the crowd as your game soundtrack. Down by the court, you hear every dribble, every step and the players as they scream out in joy or in frustration.
When it comes to neutral site events like the Big Sky Tournament, almost all of the fans are displaced. While some fans enjoy having a neutral site for the tournament, others, like Weber State class of 1983 graduate Mark Lopez, are less pleased.
Lopez said, “I liked it better the way they did it before. I think they got more fan support.”
One of the Wildcat fans to make the trip disagreed with Lopez, rather of the persuasion that there was a logical and fair reason for having the Big Sky Tournament in Reno.
Weber State fan Gary Michaud said, “It makes sense I think. The home team gets too much of a home court advantage, which would’ve been a great reason to be home but nonetheless.”
Most of the fans cheering on their schools have traveled from their home cities. Fans from Missoula, Pocatello, Ogden and more made the trip to see their favorite schools compete to be the Big Sky basketball champions.
As Weber State president Chuck Wight said, “Weber State and Montana and a few other teams are traveling, so if the momentum builds over the three-year contract period, then I think we can make it work.”
One problem with having fan support on neutral sites is the challenge of actually getting to the tournament. Some fans drove, some took the train, but most fans, like Stockton Cannon, flew to Reno to catch the Tournament.
Cannon said, “It’s a couple hours’ flight, but its worth it to come. It’s a good experience.”
When one location holds both the men’s and women’s tournaments, it allows for the fans to get the different experiences that come from the different styles of gameplay. It also lets the fans cheer on both of their school’s basketball teams in the same place.
Manuel Martinez was one fan who came to Reno early on in the tournament so that he could watch both the Weber State men’s and women’s teams.
Martinez said, “We came down to support the women too, but of course, we’re excited for the men’s game.”
The women’s team ended up getting knocked out of the tournament, and while it put a damper on some fans’ experiences, the positive emotions came back when the Weber State men’s team made it to the championship game.