Calling All Raider Fans

Jessica Slenker

Colgate is rich. Not necessarily monetarily speaking, but rich in the sense of tradition and pride. I have long thought of our school as one of the most spirited and boisterous around, a campus where students are excited to tailgate at sporting events with friends, heckle from the stands and let opposing teams know when it’s time to “warm up the bus.”

If you look through past issues of The Maroon-News or Salmagundi, some of the most classic Colgate pictures are ones taken during snowy football games, rowdy hockey matches and championship swim meets. You will find that the stadiums and fields in these pictures are packed with maroon-clad students waving flags, holding posters and simply having a good time. But judging by the lack of student support at Saturday’s football game, pictures like these may become harder to find.

Saturday was an absolutely gorgeous day, hot, sunny and perfect for taking in an afternoon game with friends. Considering it was the first game of the year, I guess I expected the stands to be filled with students ready to unleash Raider spirit. Unfortunately, I was wrong. The crowd was sizeable at kick-off, but it dwindled steadily as each quarter passed. I was not the first to realize the poor showing of support, but was alerted after a couple sitting in front of me who asked, “Where are all of the students?” I scanned the rows to find most seats occupied by alumni, parents and children, with the occasional grouping of Colgate kids. The end zone bleachers, where some of the best and most chaotic cheering usually goes on, emptied out after the first quarter – it turns out a party across the street was more important.

Being an athlete, but more importantly a student invested in the spirit of Colgate, I was disappointed in the way we represented our team and our school. I understand the game wasn’t the most exciting (although I almost had a heart attack in the game’s final minute), but our participation and attendance in general over the last few sports seasons has been pathetic. Downright sad. NCAA and Patriot League statistics support this claim, as we were nabbed with the lowest attendance rate in all of Division-I for men’s basketball games last year. From women’s hockey to men’s track, volleyball to tennis, how is it that we cannot find time to show up and show our pride?

I have considered this thought on many occasions and tried to give students (myself included) the benefit of the doubt, but I think it is finally time we get up and cheer on our friends. Put down your books and your beers – they’ll both be there when you get back – and gather kids from your hall or house to experience the excitement of a Colgate athletic contest. The administration has done everything possible to get us to go to these games, and we should really start taking them up on their offers.

As students at a Division-I athletic institution, we should feel lucky that we can easily show a ‘Gate Card to gain entrance or win t-shirts, footballs and raffle tickets just by claiming a seat in the stands. Cars, iPods, school apparel and pizza were only a handful of the prizes awarded at games last year, so personal gain alone should enough to lure you to the fields! Besides the material reasons, going to games makes you realize how talented your peers are outside of class and how contagious Raider spirit can be.

This weekend is the perfect time to rekindle your love of Raider sports. The golf team tees off this morning at Seven Oaks Golf Course in their annual Fall Invitational, the field hockey team takes on St. Francis at 6 p.m. on Tyler’s Field, volleyball plays its first of three weekend matches at 7:30 p.m. on Cotterell Court, the football team faces UMass at tomorrow, and field hockey plays again on Sunday against Columbia.

There are so many events and so few excuses not to attend, so I’ll be looking for everyone in the stands! And don’t forget that it’s okay to hum the fight song, but it’s even better to belt it out. Go throw on some maroon, flaunt your little “C” felt sticker, and wave that giant foam hand in the air. Get the season started off right by having fun and showing the opponents what Colgate is really all about.