Lucas Hagerty: Give GW a football team

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently reported that the University of North Carolina at Charlotte will be getting a football team in 2013, 62 years after the school was founded. GW has a similar undergraduate enrollment and a much larger endowment than UNC-Charlotte, so the announcement got me thinking: Why not us?

We once had a team. It wasn’t bad either. According to the College Football Data Warehouse, GW had 217 wins and 252 losses from 1821 to its final game in 1966. The best year was in 1956 when GW went 8-1-1 and was ranked No. 14 in the AP poll, upsetting Texas Western in the Sun Bowl. A football team worked in the past. Why not now?

In the winter of 1966, the GW Board of Trustees voted to discontinue the football team. Financial issues were the main reasons, according to Ed McKee, GW’s director of athletic development. It was too expensive to pay for scholarships, equipment and coaches. In the end, the school decided to cancel the football team and use the funds to build the Smith Center.

Athletic Director Jack Kvancz admitted in an interview that he would be the first to say “nothing beats a football Saturday,” but that “when it comes to dollars and cents, it just isn’t feasible.”

Today is much different from the 1960s, and if we as a school decide we want this badly enough, there are ways we can approach the hurdles that stand in the way.

Money is definitely the first major issue to consider.

UNC-Charlotte has to raise over $45 million just to get their program off the ground. That is a huge sum for any school, considering the current economic climate.

But if we can tap into nostalgia for those afternoons spent at games with friends in the 1960s and earlier, maybe alumni would be willing to give. This could be an opportunity to get alumni from that era excited about giving back to GW, which has changed a lot since they stomped around Foggy Bottom.

Space, of course, is the other major issue.

It is simply impossible to build a football stadium anywhere near our campus. But what about sharing a stadium? In the past, GW football teams used Griffith Stadium and RFK Stadium. Griffith Stadium was torn down in 1965, but sharing RFK stadium with D.C. United is a definite possibility. Given the increased size of our school and the D.C. metropolitan area, games would draw a much larger crowd than in the ’60s.

GW is a vastly different school today than it was when we last had a football team. We have better facilities, better academics and a better reputation. What the old commuter-school GW had that we don’t is a football team. It doesn’t have to be Division I, but if we all get excited enough about this, we could pull off a lower-division team.

That is all I am calling for. That is all I am pleading for. That is all I’m dreaming of. Just give us a team. Any kind of football team we can love and go cheer for.

Just imagine the taste of that burger, hot off the grill. Imagine taking a big, juicy bite and relaxing with your friends outside the stadium. Just imagine yourself going crazy with thousands of GW fans yelling for your Colonials. Let’s stop imagining and start making a GW football team something we’re willing to work toward.

The writer is an undecided freshman.

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