By many standards, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, home of the Badgers, is one of the greatest schools in the world.
It is consistently ranked in the top 25 for public universities, as well as in major sports like football, men’s basketball, women’s hockey, and women’s volleyball. In addition, there is much to do socially, and the school is beautifully located in Madison, the capital of Wisconsin and the middle of an isthmus.
That being said, the climate on campus has been a bit tumultuous to say the least these last few weeks.
UW-Madison was in the news internationally for a real life human being portraying our sitting President Barack Obama in a noose at a Badgers football game. Unfortunately, the campus also lacked any real positive activity and even buzz after the results of the election, later followed by several student-led protests.
The highly-anticipated Badgers’ men’s basketball team kicks off their season tomorrow at home against Central Arkansas, and students on campus are excited, and hope that the team can improve the overall feelings on campus.
“I think it’s going to create an exciting atmosphere,” said junior UW student and avid basketball fan Meagan Herrick. “I think this season will draw the attention of students who don’t normally follow college basketball.”
The Wisconsin Badgers are ranked No. 9 in the country, and return their whole rotation coming off a fifth Sweet Sixteen in six years. Needless to say, expectations are high and people are excited.
“It’s exciting in the sense that it gives us all something to rally behind, something that unites us all,” stated UW student and Daily Cardinal managing editor Negassi Tesfamichael. “But at the same time it’s bittersweet because even things that unite us above politics can also hurt, like the noose incident a few weeks ago or student athletes of color having to speak out on injustices.”
Some of these athletes play for the Badgers hoops squad, including Jordan Hill and Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year Nigel Hayes. The two players have been very outspoken in person and on social media, most recently tweeting a statement along with many other student-athletes, in response to the university’s noted mishandling of the “noose incident.”
With all of these real-life current events going on, the Kohl Center will hopefully be a safe haven for everyone that watches the Badgers, both on TV and in person. Fans aren’t the only ones with positive thoughts on the upcoming season, though.
“There seems to be an atmosphere on campus that looks a bit dampened by recent events–and reasonably so. Politics, racist acts and other events have been the conversation,” described fellow Badger basketball beat writer Curt Hogg. “Basketball season is the thing that could unite everybody and provide some positive energy. I know I personally am looking forward to the kickoff of the season.”
Many people both around Madison and around the country are excited for the basketball season, and this season’s tip-off could mean a lot more off the court as well.
Even if the Badgers can’t solve all of these problems, they can at least provide a positive outlet to many people.