Foreign lands: Some GW sports are played too far away

After serving as The GW Hatchet’s sports editor for two years, I’ll be moving on and trying to let go.

And with the finite wisdom I have gained during the last two years, I have one major problem with the athletic programs here: None of GW’s outdoor sports are played anywhere near campus.

I understand that we have a small campus. GW doesn’t exactly have room to build soccer fields, baseball diamonds and tennis courts on campus unless it tears down the building that houses T.G.I.Friday’s (heaven forbid) and constructs some athletic facilities there. And the space to play outdoor sports in D.C. is limited and expensive.

But there’s no excuse for how far away some of our sports are played. It’s pathetic when the outdoor sport closest to campus is crew, which, by necessity, must take place on a body of water.

And there has to be some place closer than South Riding, Va. – which is near Dulles – for the GW men’s and women’s soccer teams to play their home games. Away games at most area schools are more like home games. The University of Maryland, Georgetown and American universities, and even George Mason University are all closer than our home field.

Here are the directions to get to South Riding, as provided by GW Sports Communications:

“Travel west on Route 66. Take Route 50 West. After going under the underpass for Highway 28, South Riding is approximately four miles on the left.”

First, you obviously need a car to get to this strange far-off land. And most GW students’ knowledge of area geography is quite limited, so they probably would get lost once they got past Tokay Liquors.

So, after attending many a soccer game during the last three years, I estimate (don’t hold me to this figure) maybe one or two percent of GW students have ever seen a GW soccer game. That’s a real shame, because the games are fun to watch.

Baseball is a little better. It’s a short 10-minute drive to Arlington, Va. If you have a bike, the trip is at least conceivable. But it’s still difficult for a GW student to get there. The Student Activities Center is running a bus to next week’s home series, but transportation to baseball and soccer games is usually under-advertised and poorly utilized.

But I don’t think low attendance on such trips can be chalked up to student apathy. It’s a major time investment to travel to a game so far away and stay there until the bus returns.

Bottom line: The only two ways GW students find out how these sports fare at home is by talking to people on the team or reading The Hatchet. And hell, it is usually next to impossible for us to get to some of GW’s “home” games.

The women’s tennis team is on the right track – it has started playing its home games at the Mount Vernon campus. At least GW runs a regular shuttle there. If you want to see a tennis match, it isn’t impossible.

So for the future of GW sports, I hope this trend of moving closer to campus continues. Not only would it make the job of The Hatchet’s sports department easier, but somebody other than us might catch a game once in awhile. After all, why have an athletic program if no one sees the games?

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