To The Editor:
I was excited to read Jeff Fein’s article entitled “Division-I Athletics, Division-III Fans”. It is about time that a student has called out his peers for their obvious lack of enthusiasm for the great sports programs we have here at Colgate. As one of the smallest schools with Division-I sports, we have the honor of knowing most of the athletes on the team. Unlike the large universities where the athletes are superstars and college is a quick stop on their path towards the professional leagues, Colgate athletes are accessible. They receive no special treatment (unless those warm-ups count) and are forced to struggle with Calculus and Latin like the rest of us. In a school with 20 percent interscholastic athletic participation, it is highly likely that each student has a friend on an athletic team. Therefore, the paltry attendance numbers are even more appalling.
I know many people complain that our sports are not big-time enough to warrant their attention, but with deeper inspection this argument becomes obsolete. Just look at the women’s soccer team, which defeated #8 Princeton and #13 Arizona on their way to a Patriot League Championship and first round win in the NCAA Tournament. If these remarkable accomplishments against much larger foes do not bring out Colgate athletic spirit, then sadly Colgate should drop its claim as an enthusiastic student body. I have seen the fervor of Colgate fans most recently at the Colgate-Cornell hockey game and it is great. However we need to transcend the fair-weather fan mindset and show equal opportunity cheering to all athletic teams. The Wednesday before the Colgate-Cornell men’s hockey game, I had the honor to watch the women beat our fierce rival, 8-3. However, I was joined by 30 other fans and only when the women’s basketball team came after practice did the crowd begin to show some spirit.
A lack ofwomen’s hockey team sideline spiri is a common occurrence for the blue-collar sports at Colgate. Often the number of team members outweighs the supporters in the stands. At a school that prides itself on its sports, this deplorable situation needs to be resolved now. I propose that in conjunction with the student government we create a student sponsored organization with a main goal to rally support for the athletic teams. I realize that we have the Maroon Platoon, but this would pale in comparison to the organization that I envision. Besides rallies and bonfires, the group would have the responsibility of creating cheers and organizing events. After attending the men’s hockey game, the monotonous chant of “You suck” began to wear on my nerves. Besides the young children in attendance, it speaks poorly on the student body that these supposed geniuses can not come up with more original cheers and must resort to shouting derogatory terms at the opposing team and their fans.
Another important responsibility of the organization could be to create a unified uniform or t-shirt for students to wear to games. I attended many Boston College football games and was amazed by the section of “Superfans” cheering on their Eagles, or the great “Return to Glory” shirts of Notre Dame football. These t-shirts offer a distinct way for Colgate students to express their unity and would be quite a site at home basketball games. Also, this organization could have discussions with the administration on ways to improve athletic spirit. Even though I attended the Colgate-Cornell game, I was only able to gain admittance after the second period, thanks to the kindness of a Colgate fan with extra tickets. For the supposed “Super Bowl” of Colgate sports, it is terrible that a number of students were refused tickets to the game. For many this was their only experience with athletic events and after being turned away I am sure they will not make additional efforts. Also by not offering these apathetic students a glimpse of Colgate’s great game, we are losing potential fans. I could understand a lack of tickets at a big time-university; however Colgate has only 2,800 students. The ticket pick-up period was supposed to last from 4-6; however this sign was misleading because they were sold out by 4:15. By giving a two hour time limit, I was under the impression that there would be plenty of tickets for students, however after walking away empty-handed I was dismayed by the whole process.
We pay $40,000 a year and I realize the importance of town-gown relations, however the Colgate students should take precedence and be offered tickets before anyone else outside the university. Many students look forward to this game for a whole year and to be turned away while tons of non-students gain entrance is bad for Colgate athletics. Therefore to correct the current problems and rally the student body, I call on the student government or the administration to sanction a organization to support Colgate Athletics. I admit that I, overwhelmed by studies, have missed a number of athletic events, but as an avid sports fan, I have put my pathetic attendance records behind me. This weekend, I was lucky enough to attend both men’s basketball wins over their Patriot League competition. I can only hope that many more students can one day experience the same camaraderie and joy that one gets from loyally cheering on his or her school.
John KellyClass of 2008