There Used To Be Clocks Here

It Really Was Orange Madness

Is this post about basketball or crime?

My original intent of this post was to provide a recap of last Friday's "Orange Madness" event in the Carrier Dome and get us all pumped up about the upcoming Syracuse Men's and Women's basketball seasons. And I can still do some of that. But, as we all know by now, Orange Madness ended up being about fights & a stabbing much more so than about basketball.

First, let me mention the event itself. It began with the Voice of the Orange, Matt Park, introducing his sidekicks Scoop Jardine and Jasmine Jordan. The audio for this evtire event was awful - I could barely hear anything from my seat, it seemed like they were only using speakers set up on the floor instead of the huge Carrier Dome speakers hanging from the roof. Oh well, maybe they can fix that problem for next year. Anyway, then the women's team players and coaches were introduced, alternatingly emerging from one of two makeshift tunnels built on each side of the movable bleacher sections. After the introductions, the ladies warmed up and played an 8-minute scrimmage. Then, the part that everyone was there for: Wale performed. I'm not a fan of rap music, so I think it sucked.

Then the men's team players and coaches were introduced, in the same fashion that the ladies had been, with one huge exception: Head Coach Jim Boeheim was escorted in through the Dome's main tunnel on a military vehicle, wearing his Team USA warmups and (what must be a fake or commemorative) gold medal. Boeheim addressed the crowd, and then Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney read about a 10-minute proclamation declaring it Jim Boeheim Day. With the hoopla then dying down, the players took to the floor to begin the warmup and scrimmage A minute or two into the first 8-minute period, nearly everyone in the Dome directed their attention to a fight that had broken out in section 103. Normally, this would be the student section, but Sitrus and the students were moved to behind the opposite basket for this event. Dome security personnel and Syracuse Police responded quickly, and the fight stopped. Good, now we could pay attention to the scrimmage again.

After the first 8-minute period, there wasn't much of anything going on. The 2nd 8-minutes went by, and then it was time for the dunk contest. We discovered that last year's winner James Southerland would indeed compete to defend his title, despite earlier indications that he'd be sitting this one out. He ended up winning, basically by default, because the other contestants -- if they could actually dunk -- weren't impressive. Even one of the women's team players attempted (and failed) to dunk. But it was fun watching her try.

And then Matt Park came out, thanked us for coming, and wished us a good night.

I was a bit confused by the lack of a 3-point shooting contest, but I didn't think too much of it. We filed out of the Dome, and as we were walking in the area between the Law School and the Heroy geology building, a Department of Public Safety car basically comes flying through the Q1 parking lot and down towards the Dome, trying to get people to move out of the way. I really gave no thought to what it was going to respond to.

Turns out, of course, that Orange Madness had been cut (sorry) a half-hour short due to several fights and, ultimately, a stabbing in the concourse. I had no idea, and didn't even see anything on twitter about it until after I had left Faegan's after having a beer. We later learned that the stabbing victim was 25 years old, and not an SU student. Though he was uncooperative with the police investigation, we were told that the stabber was also not affiliated with SU, nor were any of the other people involved in the fights.

Eventually, two statements from the university were issued, one from the Carrier Dome & DPS, the other from Nancy Cantor & Darryl Gross. Both statements were carefully worded to not blame this on anything specific, but it was clear what they were getting to: "these were black people who were there because it was a free event, but don't worry, because they can never afford to come to other Carrier Dome events."

Obviously they didn't say it that way, because that's not very politically correct. True. But, it's probably true. There's been an increase of non-SU affiliated violence from the city spilling up onto the Hill. Acropolis Pizza on Marshall Street has become a hot spot, and the police want the owner to close.

So what's the University's response to prevent this from happening at the Dome again? They'll be reviewing the ticketing & seating procedures for the Orange Madness event, including the musical entertainment portion of it. Or, "tickets won't be widely available for free so that poor black people can't afford them, and we won't be having hip hop artists perform that will attract black people."

That's a very short sighted and discriminatory response. Outside of the blatant racism, it doesn't solve the problem. The problem is the crime, not who's committing it. When I was an SU student (now over 6 years ago), I thought that the gang problem in the city was getting worse. Turns out my feeling was right. It's getting worse in the city, and when you now see it increasingly spill onto the Hill, you know it's bad.

So why not help fix the gang problem? Having a folk singer perform and charging $5 for the tickets are probably going to keep the gangs away from the Dome. But they'll be somewhere else that night. They don't need to be within the confines of the Carrier Dome to commit crimes. Yeah, I don't know what the fix is for the gangs; increase police patrols & prosecutions, emphasize education, assist with skills building and job searching, community programs and services. Or something else. Who knows? But the ease of getting into the Carrier Dome and who the musical performer is will not stop this gang problem. It just further distances the University from the city's problems.

If Nancy Cantor wants to solidify her legacy in Syracuse before she leaves, helping to solve this problem head on will certainly be what does it for her.

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