If you’re like most students on this campus, you missed two Senior Nights in the past few days.
On Thursday, the Michigan men’s basketball team honored its three seniors and shocked the Crisler Arena crowd with an upset win over Purdue. On TV, it didn’t look like more than 100 students attended the game.
Two days later, the hockey team’s six seniors went through their Senior Night festivities.
A few students were scattered around Yost Ice Arena. They paid full price for their tickets, since the game wasn’t included in student season ticket packages.
A Senior Night without students is becoming commonplace at Michigan.
In five of the last six years, hockey’s Senior Night occurred over spring break. (The 2006-07 Senior Night was on Feb. 3 because the Wolverines played their last six regular season games on the road.)
Sometimes there’s no way to avoid having Senior Night over spring break, especially for the basketball team, whose conference schedule is controlled by the Big Ten.
But there was no reason to exclude students from this year’s hockey Senior Night. In fact, this year’s last regular-season home game fell on the best possible night, considering the CCHA regular season always ends during Michigan’s spring break.
Students who bought season tickets were alerted that Saturday’s game was not included in the package because it technically took place during break. They were given the option to purchase a ticket for the game at an additional cost. By the looks of the diminished (though still boisterous) student section Saturday, few did.
The Athletic Department had it backwards in making Senior Night tickets an add-in to the season ticket package. Instead, students should have had the option to opt out of the game if they knew they wouldn’t be back in Ann Arbor.
Students not only should have been included so they could enjoy another game at Yost but so they could also celebrate the accomplishments of the senior class. The student section is one of the key elements of playing at Yost, and on Saturday the seniors on the hockey team were deprived of the well-earned appreciation of their peers. (Plus, students missed out on Detroit Red Wings legend Gordie Howe dropping the puck at center ice before the game. That was pretty cool.)
It’s true that the students will have at least two more games to applaud the seniors at Yost this season, since Michigan will host a playoff series in two weeks.
But the importance of the Senior Night ceremonies shouldn’t be understated. It’s easy to congratulate someone for a strong effort during the game, but there’s no other time dedicated to celebrating four years of hard work.
Michigan doesn’t have complete control over its CCHA schedule, but it can request certain dates to be home, away or open, associate coach Mel Pearson said Thursday after practice.
Usually, the biggest concern is avoiding long road trips around exam time and home games on football weekends. But since the CCHA season always ends during the last weekend of spring break, Michigan could request to be home on the final night of the season. With many students already back on campus, Senior Night could reasonably be included in their season ticket packages.
It may seem like a big hassle just to get the students there for one more game at Yost. But if a player has worked hard for four years, he deserves to be recognized by his peers.
And the students want to recognize the effort at Senior Night. They just need to be given the chance.
— Sandals can be reached at email@example.com.