Seton Hall students that go to basketball games at the Prudential Center this season will notice a big change from the previous three seasons at “The Rock.”
The student section has been changed from the two separate sections at each end of the court to behind half the visitor’s basket and wrapping around to behind the opponent’s bench.
“Our goal was to make the students more visible,” Associate Director of Athletics for External Affairs Jamison Hannigan said. “Not only in the arena but also on the TV cameras.”
With all the students in one group at the Prudential Center, especially around the opponent’s bench, the Pirates are looking for more of a home court advantage.
“We wanted to create and expand upon the exciting atmosphere that we’ve seen develop in the three years at the Prudential Center,” Hannigan said.
The move was also developed to create more courtside seats for fans of Seton Hall basketball who are not students.
One major question that arises with placing the student section around the opposition’s bench, having the students now within easy heckling distance, is how to ensure nothing gets out of hand.
“We understand there is a higher [probability] for an incident to occur,” Hannigan said. “We trust that the Seton Hall students will represent the University in an appropriate manner.”
Other schools like Duke University have their student sections within an arms length of the opponent’s bench and have had no major incidents between students and the other team, while also being named the best student section in college basketball according to collegehoopsnet.com.
When asked if he wants students to heckle visiting teams, as long as it is “clean” Hannigan said, “Absolutely, it’s a part of gamesmanship.”
Students at Seton Hall are already anticipating the possibility of being able to easier heckle opposing players. This week, a group appeared on Facebook entitled “Hall’s Hecklers.”
The group’s aim, as stated on the Facebook page, is to “finally give our Seton Hall Pirates the home-court advantage they deserve. With the student section being expanded behind the visiting team’s bench this year, it is essential that we distract them during the game.”
The group is not only focused on helping the Pirates but to do it in a way that does not cross the boundary of offensive heckling, as evident in the group’s “10 Commandments.”
However not all students feel as though the move is a good one, but one that will just lead to problems.
“Having a student section behind the opponent’s bench is a bad idea,” said junior Glen Belekis. “It is basically encouraging heckling, and when you encourage heckling, you are just asking for a line to be crossed.”
Even with mixed reactions from the students, heckling is a part of every sporting event, college or professional.
“Heckling can be a positive thing at times when the intent is to get inside the opponent’s head,” Belekis said. “However, a line can be crossed and when that line is crossed, it creates situations of harassment.”
The Pirates home opener is Sunday at noon when the Pirates play the Cornell Big Red.
Stephen Valenti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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