Staff Editorial: Drop the tickets, keep the spirit

Our View: Despite the Colonial Army’s loss of ticket benefits, the group can still maintain a strong presence on the GW sports scene.

Colonial Army, the spirit group that dominated the attendance of men’s basketball games last season, will no longer have access to tickets before the rest of the student said Director of Athletics Jack Kvancz. In addition, students might have to pick up tickets in advance of basketball games to gain early entry. Abolishing the Colonial Army’s privileges is a wise step in equalizing ticket access for students. With other proposals, however, the University should continue to tweak the program while keeping spirit in mind. Since 2003, the Colonial Army allowed students to pay $15 to join the group, which allowed them access to tickets before other potential attendees. Allowing Colonial Army members to access tickets before others effectively hampered the ability of non-group members to see games. It may have even discouraged some students from trying to attend games.

Although Colonial Army will likely no longer have priority access to space in the Smith Center for men’s games, that does not mean the group has lost its purpose. The organization did wonders for the team over the past three years, increasing pride in the basketball program at a school without a strong culture of spirit for its team. The Colonial Army also ensured a GW presence at away games, helping to increase the visibility and prestige of the University and its sports program.

The spirit group will be able to continue its role in building a culture of pride for the basketball team in the future. Though the club may experience a slight reduction in membership because of the likely new policy, it will still be able to attend games en masse by showing up early or camping out for tickets. Furthermore, it can continue to travel to away games to represent GW. Freed of the burden of operating a ticket program, the Colonial Army may actually be able to expand its role, holding more spirit-oriented events on campus.

The abolishment of the group’s ticket privileges is only one aspect of GWs vision for the basketball program. This year, students may have to show up before games so that they will get used to the idea of getting tickets in advance. The move would presumably make way for an eventual charge for student tickets.

While at-cost student basketball tickets may be common for many established university teams, the University ought to be careful in implementing any new ticket policy at the risk of undermining student spirit for the team. The Colonial Army and a fantastic season last year fostered a culture of fanaticism that should continue. There are no guarantees, however, that the men’s basketball team will continue its stellar performance. Unfortunately, students may be reluctant to struggle for tickets to a see a team play that will not meet their expectations.

To offset the negative impact of charging for tickets, the University should clearly articulate to students the purpose of any revamped ticket program. The team has been steadily improving under the leadership of Coach Karl Hobbs, and GW officials should make students aware that adjustments to the program and ticketing are being made to better the quality of an already improving team.

To ensure a continued strong fan base for the team, the University should also reinstate some sort of spirit event to mark the beginning of the season. Administrators’ recent decision to discontinue the Colonials Invasion event should be complemented with the reestablishment of Midnight Madness.

Colonials Invasion proved to be too costly for the athletic program, but it still helped to fire fans up for the new season. Midnight Madness is easily recognizable to students as a nationwide event. Reinstating Midnight Madness, without the hoopla and expenses of Colonials Invasion, could serve as a low-cost, barebones alternative that contributes to campus spirit.

It is clear that administrators foresee a new direction for the ticketing process of the men’s basketball program. While the new policy regarding the Colonial Army will help maintain spirit by increasing ticket access to all students, the University should follow up on this with prudent future ticket policies that foster the nascent fan culture by the Colonial Army and last year’s spectacular performance.

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