by Jack Rieger
Reno, Nevada is notorious for three things: an abundance of homeless people, deteriorating casinos and freezing-cold winters. Nevada football has the unfortunate assignment of playing from September until December, when the weather dips well below freezing temperatures. Not even large quantities of vodka can shield a college student from that type of frigid weather, forcing most students to leave at halftime in order to hide from the cold.
Nevada basketball has the fortunate circumstance of playing their games in the heated dome that is Lawlor Events Center. Besides Wolfie the mascot — who is almost certainly on the verge of suffocating in his/her Wookiee costume — most students are comfortably viewing the game from their arena seats. Although the climate is room temperature, most students leave at halftime anyway.
The average college football game in 2013 took 3 hours and 23 minutes, which is about the same amount of time it takes to fly from Reno to Chicago. What’s even more telling is the ball is actually in play for about 11 minutes per game. That means that for 3 hours and 12 minutes fans are doing absolutely nothing besides running back and forth between the beer line and their seat in order to self-medicate through the first half of nonexistent play.
The average length of a college basketball game in 2013 was 2 hours and 10 minutes. What’s even better is that basketball is fluid; play can go on for several minutes in a row without stoppage, meaning students won’t constantly be caught looking at Twitter while waiting for the next play to start.
Although Mackay Stadium is about as big as a Texas high school stadium, witnessing all of the action is not easy. That’s why older fans will bring binoculars to the game in order to catch a glimpse of the 11 minutes of action. And if you happened to miss the play live, good luck watching on the big screen, which looks like it was constructed during the Reagan era.
This is basketball’s single greatest advantage; fans are almost on top of the court, creating an electric environment. The snug Lawlor Events Center forces fans to be close to the action. If Nevada basketball becomes a formidable opponent, Lawlor should make for an advantageous home court.
Nevada football hasn’t had the greatest year. Losing at home to UNLV and losing to winless (at the time) Wyoming doesn’t exactly motivate fans to come out to Mackay. Amazingly enough, if Nevada wins their last three games of the season, they have an outsider’s chance of playing in the Mountain West Conference championship, but don’t hold your breath.
Nevada basketball has excitement around the program for the first time in nearly a decade thanks to the hiring of former NBA head coach Eric Musselman. Musselman has promised to play an exciting, up-tempo style of basketball, which should make for an entertaining live experience for fans. Musselman has already recruited a couple freak athletes like Cameron Oliver, that might just keep Nevada students filing into Lawlor.
Jack Rieger can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @JackRieger