I wouldn’t call myself a huge sports fanatic. I watched my first football game in 2006 (the Steelers-Seahawks Superbowl at 2 a.m. because of the time difference) and have been interested in the sport ever since. As much as I love watching Penn play football, I love the team more. Maybe it’s the toast, maybe it’s the team’s spirit — I don’t know which, but I know I love going to Quaker games.
This weekend, I trekked up to a rather chilly Ithaca, N.Y., as a member of the Penn Band, to see Penn steamroll Cornell. On Saturday, the Quakers beat the Big Red 31-7 to bring home the Ivy League football championship for the second year in a row. According to the announcers at Cornell’s Schoellkopf Field, Penn is the only Ivy team to have two back-to-back undefeated Ivy seasons (actually, this is the third time Penn has done this). We have the winningest coach in the Ivy League and the most outright Ivy titles. But based on my experiences, this information doesn’t seem to be common knowledge. In fact, it may surprise some students. For some reason, despite the fact that we have the best and winningest football team in the League, we do not have the best fan base.
This problem isn’t unique to football. The Red and Blue Crew has been struggling to keep up attendance at the men’s basketball games. Sure, the team has been struggling recently, but any dedicated fan can see that they’re coming back with a vengeance this season. Penn Athletics has brought back the streamer-throwing tradition in an attempt to return some of the team’s former glory to the Palestra — the “Cathedral of College Basketball.” There’s really nothing quite like seeing a flurry of red and blue after a great win, but seeing the Quakers with so little student support is almost heartbreaking — especially for someone who has attended a good chunk of both men’s and women’s basketball games these past three and a half years.
Elsewhere in athletics, both the men’s and women’s soccer teams made it to the NCAA tournaments this year and the volleyball team just scored a bid to its tournament. These are not easy feats. These teams work incredibly hard with little-to-no student support — imagine what a boost we could give to athletics if students started showing up to games.
This isn’t just a case of being interested in sports — this is an issue of school pride. Is it considered uncool to show your school spirit? There are students who have closets full of Penn gear bursared at the bookstore but have never thrown toast onto Franklin Field. Do we have to bombard students with spam to get them to attend the Battle of 33rd Street and goad our students into attending a tailgate? Do people not understand what a tailgate is?! If grilling, day-drinking and spirit aren’t a strong enough draw, then I don’t know what is.
So, this is a call to every student out there that has never been to a basketball game.
To seniors: come along and see what all the fuss is about. Flex your spirit fingers whenever Tyler Bernardini shoots from the line or learn why the referee should get off his knees after a bad call.
To the freshmen: if you’ve already been to a sporting event — good for you. If you haven’t — basketball season has only just begun. After a few hours in the Cathedral, you’ll be hooked for the next four years.
And to the in-betweeners: don’t let yourself go through four years at one of the oldest universities in America without waving your arm during “The Red and Blue” or faking out the opposing basketball team by miscounting down the shot clock.
Wiktoria Parysek is a College senior from Berlin. Her e-mail address is parysek@theDP.com. Wiki-Pedia appears on alternate Mondays.Comments powered by Disqus
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