Reading Matt Kroll’s letter to the editor (Cause Without Applause, Sept. 14, 2006), I was struck by the sharp contrast with another story I’ve been hearing a lot about lately involving Boston University’s ban on swearing at all home athletic events. Apparently BU students are so overzealous and appreciative of their hockey team that they just can’t keep their harsh opinions of rival Boston College to themselves – or to some minimum level of decency.
Now, I know that Colgate has its own scandalous chants directed at archrival Cornell (I’m sure the Big Red- and every other hockey team Colgate faces – gets really flustered when they hear that Cornell, in fact, might suck), and that’s great. But when the Pep Band can come up with Colgate’s most creative chants, then the problem might be a bit too large to overcome.
I can see how the BU administration wanted to crack down on such behavior, but the group did so because the BU students are passionate in their own right and realize that they can still enjoy the game and root for their team, night in and night out. Colgate students tend to become involved in athletic events a few nights a year (the annual Cornell hockey game and the 2003 football team’s playoff run being prime examples), but over a season the interest level barely registers outside a select few. This hasn’t changed and probably won’t.
It seems like at the beginning of every year, some student (and yes, I have been guilty of this in the past) sends a letter to the Maroon-News pleading with students to go to sporting events and cheer on the Raiders. However, a commentary article will not change that and I don’t think anything ever will, save for providing students with free alcohol at all sporting events.
Athletic Director Dave Roach, who has instituted some misguided, yet well-intentioned, initiatives to up the level of student attendance and enthusiasm, as well as Colgate as a whole, must eventually come to terms with the fact that many people don’t come to Colgate for its athletics (except those actually playing the sports). Even though the Raiders field very competitive teams in every sport – a huge feat considering the size of the school when compared to other much larger Division I schools – it’s tough to attract the attention of students, many of whom are likely studying all day or still feeling the effects of another fun night downtown by game time. Fancy banners and a new scary mascot won’t change that.
Seeing the passion of the BU students almost makes me wish that Colgate had instituted a similar policy. Not because it would cut down on the enthusiasm and expression of Raider fans (which it probably would), but because it would mean that enough people were actually watching and caring about the teams to make it necessary. Judging from the past, however, only a few students will continue to buck the trend. And if the apathy does somehow end, it should be because students want to go to games, not because they are told (begged?) to do so.