By Claire Karon
March madness. This month is dominated by the most intense, grueling, and emotional tournament in college basketball. It consumes the lives of people young, old, sports fans, and non-sports fans alike. There is something fascinating about watching basketball games between teams you never thought would play each other, and trying your best to predict the outcome. Who doesn’t get a thrill out of arguing with family and friends about which NCAA Men’s basketball team is superior?
Especially when you have no connection to that team, or the reason you want them to win is because the team they are playing you absolutely can’t stand. It is the time of the year to prove to yourself how much you know about college hoops, and if you are like me, to prove to your friends and family you know more than them too…who doesn’t like a little bit of friendly competition.
The story is no different here at Marquette. If you kept up with the MU Basketball season at all this year, you know that it was filled with lots of exciting games, devastating losses, and a huge amount of support from the Marquette community. Lots of this support came from one of our favorite social media sites; Twitter. From my perspective it almost seems that Twitter is becoming just as popular (if not more) than Facebook. Especially when trying to reach a large group of people with similar interests. The Marquette community is a very tight knit one. Yet for a “medium sized” school our following is exponentially greater than that. Support from students, alums, families, and the community helped make Marquette’s NCAA Tournament experience that much more exciting. There are a number of different Twitter accounts that are all associated with Marquette University, and during tournament time most of the Tweets are usually something #mubb related.
Paint Touches, MU Athletics, MU Basketball, Anonymous Eagle and Cracked Sidewalks, are a few accounts dedicated to all things Marquette. And this isn’t even the half of them (not to mention the players tweet constantly at each other and at the fans). They tweet during good times, bad times, and are always trying to lift the spirit of Marquette fans around the Twitterverse. And especially during the toughest games, it is always great to see all sorts of fans communicating on more than one level.
Personally speaking, I can really vouch for the importance of positive messages. I am on the cheerleading team here at Marquette, and it almost like having a full time job in addition to being a student. The cheerleaders have sat through every game, no matter what the outcome. Whether Marquette wins by 20 points, or loses by 2, we are there sitting on the sidelines, cheering on our team, and getting the fans pumped up. Many of the cheerleading team members are the biggest Marquette fans around, so we tweet about the game before it even starts!
If I had a quarter for every time I’ve used the hashtag “#WeAreMarquette” or “#mubb” I’d be a very rich woman. By using these tags, it allows Marquette people to stick together, and stay connected as a community.
We all need a little bit of motivation from time to time. ESPN analysts are always looking for something to criticize about players, and even more so when they are in a rough patch. Anybody watch Marquette’s first loss to LSU? The Vanderbilt home game during winter break? Or the road games against Georgetown and Syracuse? Two losses in a row are never easy. Those games were painful to watch, and left fans around the country heartbroken. I could barely look at Twitter after those games, in fear of criticism that I would take from opposing fans.
Yet as most of us know, Marquette basketball had a pretty successful season. In our first 10 games we went 10-0, went 14-4 in the Big East season, and finished 2nd only to Syracuse in the conference season. During March Madness, the Golden Eagles did a great job against some tough competition. A first round in win in Louisville against BYU advanced us to the 2nd round (also in Louisville), where our boys battled a hard-hitting Murray State team to make it to the Sweet Sixteen for the 2nd year in a row. At the Sweet Sixteen in Phoenix, Marquette took on the University of Florida Gators for a shot at the Elite Eight. Everyone watching that game could tell that something was off with our team. Marquette just couldn’t keep up with Florida, not to mention the officiating was among the worst I had seen in the tournament thus far (I think most people can agree with me on that one). Sitting on the sidelines watching that game, most of the cheerleading team knew what was going to happen. We could see it in the eyes of the team as soon as Florida took a commanding lead in the 2nd half. And when we walked off that court at the end of the game, it started to hit us that the 2011-2012 MU basketball season was over. A fact that most of us were not ready to face.
But as I said before, Marquette has a huge community behind it and the amount of support we got after the game was overwhelming. Seeing the tweets from everyone back in Milwaukee was enough to make the depressing situation a little bit better.
Coming home to tweets from friends, family, and Marquette fans in general definitely picked up our spirits after the loss to Florida. And considering we are the cheerleading team, and it is usually our job to pick up the spirits of everyone else, it was quite comforting to know that we had an army of fans rooting us on until the very end. As silly as it may seem, getting those tweets really did make the loss that much more tolerable. When you put something on Twitter, it’s out there for the world to see (or at least your followers). This means that whatever you are writing meant something to you at the time, and you felt confident enough to share it on a social media network. Knowing that people felt some connection to MU and watched for our team during the NCAA Tournament makes me feel extremely proud to be a part of the Marquette community. I truly believe it is the strongest community I am a part of, and am extremely grateful to have people supporting us from across the country.
I think it’s kind of amazing that a social networking site like Twitter can keep us connected during one of the most exciting months of the year (in my opinion). Watching what people are saying about our team, and how they feel about the other teams in the tournament and providing your comments back to them. In the end it might not matter much, or people might not care. But if what you’re putting on Twitter matters to you, then say it loud and proud! You never know whom you might reach out to. As I said before I don’t think I could ask for better community to be a part of during the MU basketball season. It is truly one of a kind, and unique. And while this season has just ended, before we know it November will be here and the madness will start all over again. See you at the Bradley. And always remember…
Claire Karon is a student in the Diederich College of Communication and a Resident Einstein in the Wakerly Technology Training Center.