OK so let’s say it is a Wednesday night and you are sitting in your dorm room watching “Temptation Island.” Well, guess what, you are not where you are supposed to be. You should be at the Smith Center cheering on the women’s basketball team.
Does anyone see a problem with the fact that anyone can walk into a basketball game 10 minutes late, of a team that’s closing in on a top-25 spot, of a team that’s an incredible 10-1 in conference play, and have no problem finding a seat in the lower area of the student section? Well, I see a problem.
On this campus, the men’s basketball team averages an attendance of almost 4,000 fans a game. Stragglers who walk in late find themselves sitting in the back corner of the student section, if they can get a seat at all. Now don’t get me wrong, the team deserves all the attention it receives. The men are an exciting team to watch, and their success in recent years has put GW on the national map.
On the other hand, the GW women’s basketball team averages less than a thousand fans a game despite closing in on another NCAA Tournament berth. It is so quiet on the student side that you can almost hear the trash-talking that occurs on the court between the players. No one sits in the gold seats, and the upper level blue seats are not even pulled out for seating.
Why is it that some of GW’s most successful teams, especially women’s teams, get no attention from students? Two of the most successful teams on campus are the volleyball and gymnastics teams. But how many students have ever seen them in action?
This past fall the women’s volleyball team won the Atlantic 10 Tournament and received a bid to the NCAA Tourney. Despite the amazing season, only a combined 3,871 fans came to see them in 13 Smith Center contests. That is about what the men’s basketball team averages for one game. The volleyball team averaged 297 fans at a match.
Or how about the gymnastics team? They have won three consecutive A-10 Conference Championships, have the A-10 2000 Performer of the Year in Devin McCalla and have sent two gymnasts to the NCAA regionals (McCalla and Darden Wilee). But how many students have ever been to a gymnastics meet? I will admit I have never been to one and that makes me just as bad as the rest of GW.
Now this does not just deal with women’s sports, it also applies to some of the men’s teams. Last spring, the GW baseball team had an outstanding season with a school-record 37 victories. This year the team was picked by Collegiate Baseball magazine to win the A-10 West division. How many people on campus even know where their home field is?
Look at how good some of the unnoticed teams on campus are. Think about how much better they would be if they had more support. The Smith Center feels more like a neutral site than a home court.
If you cannot stay for the whole women’s basketball game, at least drop in for a few minutes and cheer on the team. Rather than watching “Temptation Island” or “Survivor,” come to a women’s basketball game or a gymnastics meet. Tape the shows. That is what VCRs were invented for, and its better anyway – you can fast forward through the commercials.