Column: The Marriott Center inflatable air dancers need a name

It’s no secret that the Marriott Center is an incredible environment for basketball.

Between the curtain drop before tip-off, “whoosh Kevin” and crunch time “Turbulence,” BYU’s in-arena experience is clearly one of the nation’s best. The home court advantage is undeniable: Mark Pope’s men’s program has won 17 of its past 20 games in Provo.

This season introduced a new element to the Marriott madness in adding two inflatable “tube guys” — as BYUtv’s Spencer Linton called them — who now reside in the front of the ROC section, adding a used car dealership feel to the arena that’s been missing for far too long.

The tube guys, or ‘air dancers’ as they’re officially called, fit right in with the BYU vibe. They’re fun! Imagine being an opponent trying to shoot free throws as two tall, slender figures wiggle uncontrollably before you, with their cold, piercing black eyes and lifeless smiles staring into your soul. That’s nightmare material right there.

For Coach Pope, the only nightmare he sees with the air dancers is their lack of clothing, as he used his postgame interview on Nov. 19 to voice some less-than-serious concerns regarding the possible nudity-related honor code issues that could arise from the dancers. Never change, Coach.

While Pope is concerned about nudity, I’m more worried about anonymity: the air dancers don’t have a name!

For a culturally unique school like BYU that has no shortage of quirks and traditions, there’s no reason why the Marriott Center air dancers shouldn’t have some sort of clever, meaningful or memorable name as well.

Imagine if Cosmo — the mascot world’s biggest TikTok star — was just “the Cougar.” Where’s the fun there? He wouldn’t have nearly as much clout without a jazzy, enduring name like Cosmo. Names are important!

Even the ROTC cannon at LaVell Edwards Stadium, George Q. Cannon itself, has a name! If BYU can name a cannon that fires at six football games each year, it can certainly do the same for two inflatable tube guys at the Marriott Center.

While we’re on the subject, let’s just give a quick shoutout to George Q. Cannon, the early church figure and former First Presidency member, for somehow having both a military cannon at LaVell’s house and a Helaman Halls dining area named after him. What a legend. That’s what I call leaving a legacy.

As for the air dancers, there are plenty of name options out there for the taking. A number of notable big men have suited up for the Cougars over the years, so you could go with ‘Yoeli,’ ‘Wesley,’ ‘Rafael’ or ‘Keena,’ just to list a few possibilities. Krešimir Ćosić could easily be shortened to ‘Kress,’ and former No. 2 overall draft selection/”Space Jam” star Shawn Bradley would be a worthy candidate as well.

How about a tribute for Jeff Judkins and Dave Rose, BYU’s two recently retired former basketball coaches? Affectionately branding the tube men as ‘Juddy’ and ‘Rose’ is the very least the school could do for the pair who combined for more than 800 career wins over 30-plus years guiding their respective programs. Sure, their coaching resumes merit much more than just having their names slapped on a silly free throw distraction, but as long as the recognition doesn’t stop there, it would definitely be an amusing way for both coaches to leave some sort of visible mark on the arena where they won hundreds of games.

If we wanted to stay more current with the names, the towering blue duo could take inspiration from BYU’s two tallest hoopers in Atiki Ally Atiki and Noah Waterman, who already have their own “twin towers” page on TikTok for all their campus antics. Some sort of TikTok collaboration with Atiki, Waterman and the air dancers, if executed properly, could be a smash hit. We can’t prevent the world from seeing this kind of content!

You get the point. Name ideas are everywhere, and these tube dudes deserve identities of their own. The Marriott Center’s most recent inflatable inhabitant was named “Flappy,” and whether it’s the team, students or fan experience department that think of something to call the tubes, it can’t be too difficult to take a step up from “Flappy.” We can’t sell ourselves short here. We’re headed to the Big 12, for crying out loud.

Is it a pressing matter to give names to the air dancers, or even necessary at all? Not really, but who cares? If anything, it’s just an entertaining distraction from the drama and complications of the real world. Isn’t that the whole point of sports?

Jackson Payne is the lead columnist at Daily Universe Sports. Follow him on Twitter @jackson5payne.

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