Column: You probably aren't as big of a GVSU fan as you think

By Brady McAtamney | 11/18/18 3:03pm

empty stands photo
The student section turnout was sparse during the Lakers' playoff game on Saturday, Nov. 17. GVL / Brady McAtamney

Do you have school spirit? 

Most students will gladly answer with a gleeful ‘Yes! Go Lakers!’ but turnouts at sporting events would suggest differently. I understand completely that we’re a Division II school so our teams’ games will more often than not be less intriguing than the likes of Michigan or Michigan State, but that does not mean that students should ignore Grand Valley State athletics completely. 

On Saturday, Nov. 17, the Lakers played in their biggest game of the year – a DII playoff game against a national powerhouse in Northwest Missouri State. We had the honor of being one of only 12 schools in the United States to host a postseason football game that day and, with the nature of it being a win-or-go-home scenario, the turnout from students and fans alike should have been rather sizable. 

GVSU’s Lubbers Stadium is able to hold upwards of 17,000 people and, earlier this season, it held 16,563 fans for the Lakers’ primetime bout with rival Ferris State. On average this season, 12,742 people attended GVSU home games. 

On Saturday, not even 10,000 fans showed up for what ended up being the final game of the season. Not even 8,000. Not even 6,000. Not even 4,000. In fact, a pathetic 2,895 fans showed up to the game. That is barely TEN PERCENT of the season average. 

For a game that saw the Lakers lose by 25 points, that is quite possibly the most embarrassing statistic of the entire day. 

I get it: it was cold outside. People don’t exactly like freezing their asses off when they could be inside getting wasted (which, in itself, is a problem for another column), playing Fortnite or sleeping, so why go watch the team? People probably had good excuses for missing out, whether they headed home early for break or were buried in homework or had prior commitments. For everybody else, you have no excuse. 

Nearly GVSU’s entire student population is from Michigan and its surrounding states, meaning that very few people here are strangers to cold weather. You own a coat and some gloves, so wear them. Money is not an issue here either since student tickets are completely free; the university has paid off your ticket so that you can attend.

Worst of all, this was the final game for several football greats at the university. These seniors have worked tirelessly in an effort to bring honor to the school and the Laker brand, and now that their seasons and, for many, their football careers are over, they’ll be left with the image of empty stands and zero-damns-given about them from the community. These young men put their personal health on the line for you and you have responded with a resounding “we don’t care.” 

This is not just a football issue, either. Our women’s soccer team is Final Four bound – did you know that? How many of our basketball players can you name on the men’s team? How about the women’s team? Do you know any of our volleyball, baseball or softball players? 

If you answered ‘no’ to most of these questions, maybe you should re-evaluate just how much you love your school.

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