Remember the Titans. Rocky. Rudy.
The greatest sports movies always have that epic comeback. You know the moment when it’s the fourth quarter and the team is losing by a couple of points and then the coach puts the underdog player in the game and his girlfriend is on the edge of her seat and he meets her eyes from way down on the field and it starts raining and then … they score! It’s a touchdown! It puts the team in the lead and in the last 10 seconds of the game they realize it’s a win and everyone starts crying and cheering.
Maybe that could’ve happened to us at the Homecoming game. We could have even had some rain if the Abilene weather showed up like it usually does. But everyone left before the fourth quarter even started.
Our editorial board members stayed until the end of the game and watched the band lead the team in the alma mater song in front of empty bleachers. The stadium that had been completely sold out was bare -except for a few alumni here and there and a small clump of Wildcat Reign members in the student section.
Did people leave because the team was losing? Yes.
Some people left because it was hot -and the team was losing. Some people left because the Homecoming Queen and the parade float winners had been announced -and the team was losing. Some alumni had crying children to take care of -and the team was losing.
People left because that’s part of the culture at this university. We barely come out to support our team when we’re winning so why would we come when we’re losing?
For the opening game, people came because they knew we were making history with the grand opening of a $30 million stadium. They stayed until the end because there were fireworks afterward and the team was on pace for a solid win against Houston Baptist University.
But then Parent’s Weekend rolled around and the stadium was noticeably less full than the first game. So yes, in general Wildcat Football faces a consistent lack of attendance and support from students and alumni. (Or maybe the 12,000-seat stadium is too big for our 5,000-person student population). Either way, that doesn’t explain why so many people left at Homecoming. Logically, we can assume that people left because we were losing.
The student body may think we are under no obligation to stay if the team stinks. But what if we chose to stand by our team and support them even in failure?
That’s something we certainly expect from our professors and our friends. Clubs stick together when they lose Sing Song. Professors are kind to us when we fail to turn in homework. ACU makes a big deal about relationships as the “ACU difference,” yet we can’t seem to offer the same thing for our football team.
We can show up at 10 p.m. for club intramural games and yell and cheer in tutus in 50 degree weather, but we can’t stand in the bleachers on a Saturday afternoon to support our team.
Also, who says we can’t have an epic underdog comeback? At both the stadium opening game and the Homecoming game, freshman quarterback Luke Anthony scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Anthony has the chance to come from behind as a leader on this team, but the student body will be too busy leaving in the third quarter to notice.
So maybe it’s time for the student body to show some support. Our team may be losing, but lose or win, we can start a culture of support simply by sitting on a bleacher a little longer. And for Pete’s sake, we live in Abilene -it’s not like we have better things to do on a Saturday night.