On finally realizing that the past has passed us by

Or, “No Country for Old Men.”

Before me things create were none, save things
Eternal, and eternal I endure.
All hope abandon ye who enter here.

There’s no possible way I, or anyone else save Ernest Hemingway or Dr. Seuss, can do justice to the Martin Centre. In its prime, it was at once Bo Jackson and Sergeant Slaughter, all death and destruction, yet sublimely beautiful. You’d get all hopped up on beer and violence (or Old Crow and violence, as it sometimes was), and prepare to bring ruckus for no other reason than because it was freaking awesome.
And it was freaking awesome. They say the sense of smell is the one most closely tied to memory, and I believe it, because as I sit here, I can smell that delicious mix of booze, sweat, and mold that nailed you in the face once you walked through those double doors. The energy on most nights was intense, but every so often, for the really big games against Pepperdine or Santa Clara, the place was an insane asylum. The blue carpet on the walls, the Hustle Board, the old-timey wooden bleachers, the noise, the death, the destruction. It was awesome.
Blah, blah, blah.
Sometime since the Portland game, it hit me pretty clearly that we’re never getting that again. Or rather, no Gonzaga student or fan is ever getting that again. For all its purteeness, the McCarthey Center gives us none of the atmosphere of the old place. Actually, maybe it could (and then some); it just doesn’t. By some weird freak of sociology, the 2,000 or so in seating increase (depending on whose Martin Centre capacity figures you believe) has meant that the MAC has next to no atmosphere for the average game. Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing, and whatnot (you may remember a few weeks ago when I wrote of my own first trip to the MAC for the San Diego game). Bells and whistles are great, and those luxury boxes sure bring in a lot of money, but somewhere along the line, the Kennel turned into a ghost.
So here I am, the guy who normally chases Train and Tange Time and Pepperdine games like the ghosts of Gonzaga past that they are, saying I’m letting go. The Kennel will never be what it once was. I’m sad for the people who didn’t get to experience something that really was incredible, but I’m moving on. Realize that I’m not exactly an all-star at moving on–I still hate the Jacksonville Jaguars for making me cry 11 years ago. But with this, I figure, somethings are best left to the memory banks. No amount of agrivation or complaining or suggestions or anything else can bring that homecourt advantage back.

It was great. But now it’s gone.


Go Zags.

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5 Responses to “On finally realizing that the past has passed us by”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Cry me a river. I think the saying “The older I get, the better I was” applies to you and your Kennel assessment.

    – el cazador

  2. You really cried because the Jags beat the overreated Boroncos? You were like 15? Oh yeah, I forget that you are a freak. I can’t believe the Homefront Commander still lives with you.

  3. Amen! The Mac may be brighter and cleaner than Kennedy Pavilion/Martin Center, but it is relatively soulless.

    Why? Lots of reasons… plastic seats replacing wood bleachers (creates a softer, kinder resonance), political correctness taking firm grip on the neck of fun (ask Pepp or SC players from the KP era if they remember shooting foul shots to the clang of a baseball bat on a garbage can lid… they do), a much more highly pampered student body with less creativity making up the once-vaunted Kennel Club…

    But the biggest reason for the decline in atmosphere might lie with us, the fans.

    We are, after all, an entirely different economic and social segment of the population when compared with the old Martin Center mob.

    The front ten, twenty, maybe thirty rows on the non-student side are no longer made up of long-time blue-collar Zag fans with rabid tempers and foghorn lungs. Now, those seats are filled with Spokane’s “elite” who can afford the luxury of ponying up thousands just for the right to pay hundreds more for their chair. These people don’t wildly cheer on the underdog, they sit back and demand excellence. They shake their wizened heads and say “tut, tut” when the ref sticks their boys with a bad call.

    But, building a national program and a bigger arena where more people can experience the fun takes money. That kind of money can’t be found in the pockets of Joe Sixpack or Helga the Horn (she sits by us, way up high). It puts a lot of pressure on the Kennel Club to be constantly loud and continuously creative, and maybe we’re just expecting too much from them. They can’t carry four thousand quiet fans on their shoulders.

    Yes, like you, I miss Martin Center every time I go to a game.

  4. like you, i’m an 03 grad and spent all my years in the martin center). i mostly agree with you, however i was at the new kennel for the college gameday matchup vs. stanford, and also for the WCC tournament in spokane.

    of course, those were ‘special’ games, but i felt like the crowd really ‘showed up’ for those games. but it doesn’t seem like that every game anymore, like it used to. i don’t think this is just ‘wistfully remembering’ the past, either. i’ve never heard a quieter kennel crowd than i had against portland.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    although i’ve still never been to a men’s game in the new kennel i’ll never forget the ‘kennel’ as i know it. i have so many memories from that place that i’ll never forget. watching friends play, flashing my student id to get into the games (yes, we didn’t even need to have a ticket), jumping up and down as hard as i could, watching drunk kennel clubers struggle to stand, listening to friends scream obcenities at the opposing team, being in the kennel club that consisted of one section of bleachers on the lower level, sitting in the same row with the same teammates every game my senior year. although these are few and far between of the many memories that i have, i’ll never forget my college years and how much time i spent in the kennel both as a fan, a friend, a teammate and a student.

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