Joanna Shapes: Where’s the pigskin?

This weekend, three friends from the University of Pittsburgh came down to visit. During dinner Friday night, each one took turns “going to the bathroom,” only for me to later discover that their beloved college football team was in the middle of a game that was being shown at the bar.

The game was a total blowout, a 52-7 victory, but they nonetheless found it necessary to make sure that the Panthers were pulling out the win.

I was in the middle of making fun of them for caring so much about an unimportant game when one of my visitors seriously said to me, “What’s your team’s record?” I sadly explained that we didn’t have one, and he stared at me like I couldn’t be serious.

I understood what he meant. As a huge fan of professional football, my friends from home couldn’t believe I would actually go to a school without a football team. I told them that as much as school spirit adds to the college experience, I wasn’t going to attend a school like the University of Michigan just because students paint their faces yellow and blue every Saturday. Not having a football team doesn’t matter and I’m content rooting for the schools my friends go to. Basketball is the collegiate sport that I care about.

And yet, every time I see that pesky “GW Football: Undefeated” t-shirt that students insist on wearing, I cringe. As humorous as it may be at first glimpse, it actually hints at something I see as a major setback of the Colonials’ athletic program.

The reasons behind why the school cannot fashion a team are clear, as former Hatchet writer Zach Ahmad explained in an article last year. The program was axed in 1967 by Lloyd Elliott, GW’s new president who felt that academics should be the primary focus of a college. He maintained that the money spent on a football program could be better utilized, according to the article.

The reasons for not having a football team today are understandable. Director of Athletics Jack Kvancz explained to Ahmad that GW is not equipped with the facilities to host a football team, and with the current build of the city, finding the facilities would be hard, if not impossible. Kvancz said in that article that another small building would have to be constructed to house the necessary gear and weight equipment.

Nonetheless, I still can’t help but feel that students are missing out. Although I’ve never actually attended a college football game, just seeing it on TV is enough to make even fair-weather football fans want to go. The band, the signs, the decked-out students – how much fun would that be? I think most GW students would gladly spend six or seven Saturdays each fall yelling at referees or singing the fight song louder than they do during the basketball season. Your alma mater is forever. College football is a great way to enjoy and support your school from the day you’re accepted until the day you graduate and long beyond that.

So what’s my whole point with this rant? No, it’s not a call to the athletic department to get a football team in the works. It’s not even a way to express contempt toward the University for not having one. The non-existence of a football team wasn’t a sneak attack; I knew that GW didn’t have a team when I chose to come to Foggy Bottom. I just long for a personal connection to the gridiron game that so enthralls me. My jealousy of even nearby Georgetown, despite the team’s 1-6 record in a paltry schedule, rarely subsides.

As my friends departed Sunday afternoon to go back to school, they asked me when I would be heading north to see them. My answer? A weekend when Pitt football is at home.

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