A yellow line placed on the floor at Jesse Philips Arena made a game-changing dif­ference for the men’s bas­ketball team in its loss to Ashland Uni­versity on Sat­urday. This line smothered the spirited Charger fan base, making a crucial dif­ference in the second half and costing Hillsdale the win.

Fanhood is a mys­te­rious, yet strong and com­munity-building bond in sports. Sat­urdays in the fall mean 110,000 people cramming their way into the Uni­versity of Michigan’s “The Big House” to scrunch them­selves amongst each other uncom­fortably while watching their team play a football game. That’s right, for stu­dents, alumni, “Michigan Men,” and Walmart fans alike, it is their team. It’s no sur­prise to the screaming fans when their team walks off the field vic­to­rious, the home-field advantage pre­vailing yet again.

The same holds true in bas­ketball as it does in football. Home court advantage plays a major role in team per­for­mance. In fact, some will argue that the fans have a larger effect on the game in bas­ketball than they do in football due to a smaller stadium and closer prox­imity to the playing surface.

Earlier this season, a blog run by ESPN ana­lysts ranked “The Top 10 Toughest Sta­diums” in which to play college bas­ketball; basi­cally, the top 10 best student sec­tions. As the home stretch of this year’s NCAA bas­ketball season approaches, the teams who call these sta­diums home have amassed a com­bined home record of 128 wins and 17 losses (88.3 percent). Famous student sec­tions such as “The Cameron Crazies” (Duke Uni­versity) and “The Izzone” (Michigan State Uni­versity) take pride in their impact on the game.

The fans love their team and the team loves the fans, so as long as nobody is phys­i­cally hurt by fan involvement, why sup­press the pride and spirit of a loud, involved student section? This past Saturday’s bas­ketball game against the Eagles found the student section being just that: sup­pressed.

After Hillsdale came out in the first half shooting nearly 40 percent from three-point range and holding the Eagles to a measly 21 points, it looked as if we would see another W for our boys at the end of the afternoon. The student section that day was the loudest it had been all year, as more Charger pride arose from those bleachers than had been seen at a home game in quite some time. In fact, as an Ashland Uni­versity radio announcer put it, “[The Hillsdale student section has] been warned three times to stay back. Kinda like Cameron Indoor,” which is a ref­erence to the stadium of the Duke Blue Devils, who have posted a home record of 15 – 0 this season. Yet, after a spec­tacular defensive half in which the Chargers had forced seven turnovers and held the Eagles to just 24 percent shooting from the floor, one thing changed the atmos­phere of the entire game: a thin, yellow line.

As college employees unrolled a yellow line that was placed on the floor, fans were forced to move nearly three feet farther away from the court than where they had pre­vi­ously been standing. As the half began, nobody could feel the effect of the Hillsdale crowd dwin­dling more than the Ashland players, who shot 70.6 percent from the floor and 100 percent from three-point range in the second half. Yes, that’s correct, a perfect five for five.

As the final buzzer sounded, Hillsdale College fans saw their boys fall 64 – 56 to an Ashland team who “boasted” a poor record of 10 wins and 12 losses; a loss that left most in the arena scratching their heads.

So what hap­pened? Did our men just not have enough juice left in the tank at the end of the game? Do we not have enough talent on our bas­ketball team? The answer to both of these ques­tions is a resounding NO. In fact, the Hillsdale Chargers (16 – 7) have a home record of 11 – 3 this season (one of these losses came over Christmas break) and are among the top four schools in the con­ference in cat­e­gories including field goal per­centage (47.8), three-point per­centage (40.3), and points allowed per game (62.1). There is no doubt that our bas­ketball team is very tal­ented and has an extremely knowl­edgeable coaching staff, so again I ask, what hap­pened? A thin, yellow line.

In a school of 1,300 stu­dents, most of whom would rather read phi­losophy books on a Sat­urday afternoon than support their bas­ketball team, why hold back the group of stu­dents who bleed blue and white and wanted nothing more than to see a Charger victory this past weekend? Why stifle our home court advantage and squash our school spirit? Now, some may argue that the team is, in fact, respon­sible for the loss; none more than the humble players them­selves, I’m sure, but there is no doubt in my mind that this is not the case. So who, or what, is respon­sible for the loss suf­fered this past Sat­urday? A thin, yellow line.