In the March 5 issue, I wrote a column entitled "Students should bear chief responsibility for generating fan support" that basically outlined my mission statement here: getting students to attend athletic events and to understand the Maroon student-athlete. I have gotten a number of good comments from student-athletes and coaches who appreciate the support, as one could expect. I have also gotten a lot of positive feedback from other students in the College, who have since been inspired to attend events.
That response has been enough to strengthen my belief that we can support our athletics here and rally around being Maroons. We just need something to get the ball rolling, both by making the events captivating for the general spectator and by getting people to the games in the first place.
After reviewing the SG slates, I have decided to endorse Slate of the Union with my vote because I believe they have a plan that could spark this change. I support the slate for many of the same reasons that were mentioned in the Maroon's April 30 unsigned editorial. In terms of its athletics platform, I support its proposal for an Athletic Advisory board, which would be comprised of elected representatives from each athletic team and communicate athletic interests to SG and other student groups.
The board fits one of the slate's broader themes: communication. "By including athletes on a committee that is part of SG, we can work with athletes on various levels: helping them publicize, getting other student groups interested in athletics, as well as getting athletes interested in other student groups' activities," said Aarthi Sowrirajan, who is running for vice president of Student Affairs. "We want to work towards encouraging increased student interaction among all student groups."
The slate does not single out athletics as something that should be valued over everything else. Rather, it sees it as an example of a group that can use the help of, and be used to help, other student groups. Having athletes communicate regularly with SG and the RSOs will help make sure that their interests are represented as well.
As I argued in my previous column, other events could be run concurrently with games in order to improve attendance and excitement for both activities. How about having a WHPK-supported campus band play before a basketball game or during halftime? I'm sure groups can come up with some great fundraisers or study breaks.
We should support this idea because there is a lot of apathy towards some student groups, athletics included. Sports are a great way for students to rally around being Maroons, as well as a way to provide some free social options.
It's really great to see that two of this year's slates, both Slate of the Union and Raising the BAR, have incorporated an "Athletic Advisory Board" in their platforms. Raising the BAR, which has received the endorsement of the Order of the C (OOC), the male varsity letter winners' organization, has some great ideas to support club sports as well.
Many of the reasons that the OOC has cited for endorsing Raising the BAR could also be reasons to endorse Slate of the Union. Much of the difference between the two lies in Raising the BAR's promise to budget more money to club sports in order to increase the school's visibility, as well as promotions for varsity sports. Funding will be important to sparking interest, but it is important to remember that SG does not actually have any control over where funds go. They can only push the funding bodies to consider certain options.
It's great that we have a couple of options that will advocate funding or other forms of support to athletics. I strongly encourage whichever slate is elected to keep both varsity and club athletics in mind as part of our broader attempt to improve campus life. Change is going to come in small steps, but with a number of teams set to contend in the playoffs again next year, let's get running sooner rather than later.