Commentary: Parties shouldn’t overshadow the purpose at the CIAATournament

By Ca’Vette-Latice Buford

Held in the city of Charlotte, NC, the CIAA Basketball Tournament brings in quite a bit of money.  According to the CRVA (Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority), in 2012, the city made 50.5 million from people visiting the city for the tournament. In 2013, the city made just under 30 million. Although those figures sound good, the CIAA receives 1.4 million of that money from the CRVA to cover tournament expenses and scholarships for the students that actually play in the tournament.

After hearing those figures, I was instantly alarmed. The city is receiving so much money but the athletic association is receiving so little? Why? As a graduate of a CIAA school, I do not feel good about the current student-athletes at these institutions not being supported while people come in droves and pour money into the surrounding parties and events. People forget or are unaware that this is a basketball championship tournament, and without that tournament, this would be just another winter weekend in Charlotte.

We have celebrities and regular people come from everywhere to see and be seen but will not even step foot into the arena to watch the game. If they do watch the game, they have no idea what school they are supporting or have a connection. That’s sad.  You also have the people who are connected to the schools, whether they are alumni, current students, or just familiar and they won’t purchase a ticket to the game because they feel the price is too high. These same people will spend a pretty penny on an outfit to attend a party that’s being hosted by a promoter who won’t use CIAA on their flyer because they would have to pay the association a fee for using their name.

We must bring back the focus on who this tournament is really about: the students. These student-athletes are using their skill to entertain us for a few hours. We should be willing and able to invest in them for providing such entertainment.

This year will be my first year attending the CIAA Tournament and I made a vow to myself that I would not attend any events that don’t directly profit one of the 12 CIAA institutions or the athletic association itself. With HBCUs under siege around the country, it’s important for those of us who know their value to create awareness about their needs and to create a culture of support and giving back amongst ourselves and to outsiders.

As you make your travel plans for the tournament, please consider going to a game. Or donate to a participating school. Or go to an event that makes a monetary donation to the CIAA. Every little bit counts and we must stop filling the pockets of those making a profit off “us” when we could be funneling that money directly to “us”.
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