The Gong

The mostly official blog of the Hodges Partnership.

The Wild and Innocent and the Broad Street Shuffle.

March 20, 2012 | by Jon Newman

I have a confession to make.  I picked Wichita State to beat VCU in the first round on my brackets.

I didn't want to tell anyone before the tournament here in roundball-crazy #RVA for fear they would equate me with Jay Bilas and Dick Vitale.

VCU Pepband from VCU AthleticsRichmond and to a greater extent the VCU fan base has reached a critical stage in its current run of basketball success.  You see you can't make the Final Four every year or the Sweet Sixteen either.  The long-term question is will the recent success create a base of season ticket sales, donations, etc. to propel VCU to higher levels of success?  Or will it fall off as the attempt to reach the heights falls short?

Fan bases are fickle.  For example at Rutgers, my alma mater, we would give just about anything to just make the NCAA tournament.  We haven't been there since 1991.  Incredible for a team that made the Final Four just 15 years earlier and was a tournament regular into the early 80s'.

But things change.  Coaches move on, fan bases get spoiled, you change leagues or new leagues are formed and blink you go 20 years without a dance.

My Rutgers and VCU lives intersected this year as Vic Cegles invited me  and my family to our first Rams home game.  I sort of knew Vic's dad when I was a student at Rutgers and he headed up athletic fundraising at the Scarlet R club.  Vic was the second baseman for Rutgers Big East champion baseball team a few years ago and is now following in his father's footsteps as the Director of the Ram Athletic Club at VCU.

Thanks Vic, what I witnessed at the Siegel Center was a basketball revival meeting of sorts.  The sellout crowd, fans singing soccer-style with the pep band, and a genuine love between the fans and the team.  I also witnesses a sold out donor suite populated by a who's who of #RVA movers and shakers wanting to see and be seen.  It reminded me of Rutgers in the mid-to-late 70's and 80's.  It reminded me that we took that success for granted.  It reminded me how quickly things can change.

My hope is that VCU and Richmond as a whole can hang onto this feeling of success as long as we can.  We should not be spoiled by it and assume it will occur year after year.  As Springsteen would say, We need to stay a bit "wild and innocent."  Because things change.

Before we sign off on Richmond March Madness 2012 let's take one last moment to celebrate our success.  The worst thing we can do is take it for granted.

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Jon Newman

Jon worked on-air and in management at a number of radio and TV news organizations in New Jersey, Tennessee and Virginia before joining The Martin Agency. He parlayed his media background into national media placements for countless clients, and that media relations focus is still a core competency at The Hodges Partnership. As the media landscape has changed, Jon’s focus now also includes social and digital media. Read all posts by Jon Newman »

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