Jumping head-first into the Bucks' "Squad 6"
Many Bucks players buy large blocks of tickets each year, distributing them to various agencies, charities or groups. But few players have done what Andrew Bogut has.
Prior to the season, Bogut bought 100 season tickets for what he hoped would be the loudest, craziest and most dedicated Bucks fans. The catch was, they had to come to each game and, well... be goofy.
With 14 home games in the books, Squad 6 has become an impossible-to-miss presence in the Bradley Center, which, let's face it, can from time to time, be a little dull during games.
A cross between a college student section and soccer hooligans, these fans are on their feet the entire game, blowing horns, leading chants and injecting some much-needed life into the Bradley Center.
Bogut got the idea by combining two very opposite experiences. In Milwaukee, he noticed many weekday nights where smaller crowds at the Bradley Center were fairly quiet. That's a sharp contrast to his experiences playing in Europe, where fans often bring noisemakers, flares and chant and scream for the game's duration.
"Weeknight games in Milwaukee are tough for people to get to sometimes," Bogut says. "Being a smaller market, there are some empty seats. It was very loud, so I thought we needed something to help the atmosphere here and get some people that would just cheer."
So far, so good. The group is close to 100 percent capacity, with about 85 members in attendance per game. Auditions are still being accepted, says Zak Grim, the Squad 6 director.
"Fans can still send us videos or essays explaining why they should be a part of Squad 6."
Attendance is taken to make sure fans are using their tickets. The bar codes are scanned and tracked in a database and members also have to check in with Grim. After three unexcused absences, they lose their tickets.
"It's a three strikes and you're out system," Grimm says. "So far, though, we haven't had any problems."
The group is bringing attention to the Bucks who, with surprising play early on and a star-in-the-making in rookie point guard Brandon Jennings, are gaining more headlines that usual.
The New York Times recently ran a story on Squad 6 and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was impressed by the group's enthusiasm when his team came to the Bradley Center earlier this season.
"Those fans were the most fun fans I have seen on the road EVER. It made the atmosphere 100x better. More PBR for them," Cuban said on his Twitter account after the Mavericks' 115-113 overtime victory.
Squad 6 was in full force during a double-overtime victory over Portland on Dec. 12 and, for the first time this season, the energy from the group got the entire Bradley Center involved.
"I think I lost about 500 calories that game," says Squad 6 member Melanie Markovina.
The highlight of the group's season came near the end of the first overtime.
The Bucks were down, 95-93, with 4.9 seconds to play. After Carlos Delfino's missed shot was tipped out of bounds, officials awarded the ball to Portland but opted for a video review.
While the officials checked the replay, Squad 6 started chanting "that way," pointing towards the Bucks' end of the floor. The chant caught on and the entire Bradley Center joined in, nearly blowing the roof off the place when the call was reversed.
"That was great," says General Manager John Hammond. "If you want to talk about the influence Squad 6 has had on this building, that was it right there."
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wiscoleeds...it's not about world recognition, it's about the Milwaukee Bucks!!! Great story Andrew and thanks again Bogut!!! See you all Wednesday :-)
Great article and video. I haven't been to a game yet this season, but Squad 6 seems like a terrific idea. I always thought Bucks games would be better with a college-like atmosphere.
If American sports fans weren't so devoid of any ability to create atmosphere it wouldn't require an Aussie athlete to show them how it's done. NFL, MLB, NBA...beyond "go team go", "defense" what's left. Go to Europe and see how they create atmosphere and chants at games without needing corporate sponsorship, an organ player or cheerleaders. Good for Bogut but it's a poor reflection on the American sports fan that it's come to this.... Wiscoleeds
Fan | Dec. 21, 2009 at 10:40 a.m. (report)
One of the best ideas in pro sports in a long time. Hats off to Bogut. More players, in all sports, should follow his lead. Great story!
Thats wassup "Drew". Prolly see u at halftime hopefully after EVERY HOME GAME BABY!! Keep it coming...ill definitely come back and check out your up&coming stuff, and then yell at ya a little if u write something i disagree with. GO BUCKS!
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