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The Hilltop


Howard Meccaverse Kickoff: The Highs and Lows of Bison Madness

HU Cheerleaders during Bison Madness, photo courtesy of Hunter Holliday.

The annual pep rally, a celebration of the basketball programs, welcomed students to Burr gymnasium for an evening of enjoyment sponsored by Jordan Brand, AT&T and Nissan. 

The event took place on Monday, Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. and although it aimed to get students inspired for the upcoming week, it was gradually losing its engagement and audience as the activities proceeded. The event was accompanied by a pre-show before the event and a block party afterward. 

Sophomore TV and film major Briana Kirkland was among the underwhelmed students. Kirkland was one of the hundreds of students who took the first come first serve seating style into consideration when deciding how much waiting she would endure. Students stood in line for anywhere between one and four hours awaiting the doors to open, while a pre-show took place. A small stage was set up towards the front of the line, giving students at the very front the best view. 

“I didn’t realize the people on the stage were at the pre-show, I thought I was missing the pre-show while I was in the line,” Kirkland said. “But I was excited to get the goods and see the show, so I stayed.”

Students wait in line outside of Burr gymnasium for Bison Madness, photo courtesy of Hunter Holliday. 

As the first homecoming since partnering with Jordan Brand, production value exceeded the previous year, with a heightened amount of style. Outside the building stood the HU & Jumpman photo truck where students had the opportunity to take photos with the Jordan brand background. In addition, students were met with Jordan tote bags and blue beanies upon entering the building. 

The event began with an impressive sizzle reel of the Jordan collaboration, followed by lights, fog and high energy on the floor from the host, DJ and cheerleaders. Photographers and videographers occupied the floor to produce the content that would later be released on social media for the basketball programs as well as be streamed for those not in attendance. 

For many attendees, however, this year’s pep rally was an object of comparison to the previous Bison Madness event. With a new sponsor and high production quality, the Homecoming event still seemed to fall short of what many students thought it was capable of. Between the confusion with the pre-show and anticipation of the block party, the main event could not manage to keep the house full all night. 

At the start, performances from the Showtime band, dancers and cheerleaders had students on their feet, enjoying the exciting entertainment and merit of the band. This was an energy that Showtime band member and sophomore legal communications major Jaylin Shy noticed from the floor.  

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“The energy was insane, everyone was standing and dancing with us,” Shy said. “The energy from the crowd energized me and to be in a space that was specifically our students was insane.” 

The players of both the women’s and men’s basketball teams also brought tremendous exuberance to the floor, showing off their new Jordan gear and fun accessories like black-out shades and flags in an attempt to engage the crowd and pose for some high-quality photos. 

However, with fewer ways to engage the students, such as the half-court shot competition or raffle like last year, students grew more interested in the block party that would begin shortly after the men’s scrimmage. By the time the three-point contest rolled around, masses of students were leaving their seats and preparing to go outside. By 8:30 p.m., more than half of the stadium was empty while the basketball teams faced off in a three-point contest that featured each team’s best sharpshooter. 

The downturn of energy was something that men’s basketball manager Makia Jackson noticed as well. When comparing this year to last, the exciting momentum from the dedicated players didn’t translate to the crowd as one might have hoped, Jackson explained. 

Photo courtesy of Hunter Holliday.

“A lot of students weren’t aware of the purpose of the event,” Jackson added. “It was almost awkward.” 

Jackson was one of the many managers capturing content and photos for the team to be featured on the social media accounts dedicated to the teams. From a social media standpoint, via the flashy pictures and video content, the event appeared lively. 

The lack of momentum for the event was found at the block party which took place directly after. Featured artist IDK performed and engaged students outside of Burr where some campus favorite food trucks were parked. Later that night, the basketball teams joined the musicians on the stage to be celebrated. 

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Copy edited by Chanice McClover-Lee


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