Philadelphia is a city that prides itself on having the wildest, craziest and most supportive fans around. The Sixers season last year was incredible and the hoopla over the Eagles almost making it to the Super Bowl was even bigger. So what happened to the fan support at a small college just outside of this great city? Cabrini’s sports teams are desperately lacking in the fan department.
According to athletic director and head men’s basketball coach John Dzik, “Athletes in general are entertainers or performers. If you went out to entertain and no one was there to watch you, how would you feel?” The answer to this question is obvious. Running out on the field or the court just to see empty bleachers and maybe just a few parents with video cameras can be very discouraging. “It can be very embarrassing as well when the visitor’s fans outnumber your own at home games,” Dzik said.
Athletes work hard to accomplish what they can at games, and a victory is almost bittersweet if no one is there to witness it. When asked how fan presence at the games affects the team’s performance, Dave Johanson, junior men’s lacrosse player, said, “It depends on the game. If it’s a big game and the score is close, having fans there can amp you up because people are yelling at you.” Fans can have a big impact on a player’s motivation and will to win. “When you are ready to give up, a huge crowd can make all the difference,” according to many players.
Apparently just having bodies in the stands isn’t always enough, however. According to junior women’s soccer player Kristen Luft, “Fans keep you going when they cheer you on, but when it is a quiet crowd, I could care less whether they are there or not.” Fans not only have to show their support for their team by showing up to the games, but they have to be cheerleaders for them too.
So why are there so few fans at Cabrini’s sporting events? According to Dzik, “Students today are different than students in the past. They have other interests such as the internet, which wasn’t around in the past, and most students have part-time jobs that take up much of their spare time.” He also mentioned that so many students on campus are in the habit of complaining that there is never anything to do. If boredom sets in, turn to the calendar of events on your wall or call the Dixon Center to find out what teams have games that might need a few extra people in the probably minimal crowd. Maybe part of the problem is that there is little promotion of games and sporting events on campus.
Dzik mentioned that since student activities is in charge of all of the activities on campus, shouldn’t sports fall under that? Maybe if people were more informed about certain games, the players wouldn’t have to look up to empty stands. When asked about the possibility of increasing publicity of sporting events, Mary Beth Horvath, director of student activities said, “That’s really not my area; they are a different department. There is a calendar that is put out with events listed on it, but if the various departments do not submit events to me, they don’t make it to the calendar.”
With lack of awareness or maybe just lack of interest on behalf of the campus community, the term “playing to a funeral crowd” has been thrown around by head men’s lacrosse coach Steve Colfer, which means that most of the teams are playing for friends and family. “Most people that come out are friends and family, but more people come out on nice days, especially when both soccer teams or maybe the lacrosse teams have home games on the same day,” Luft said.
With everything that is going on in a student’s busy life, maybe there is a spare hour or so that can be spared to come out and support the athletic teams that work so hard to bring honor and victory home to Cabrini. Dzik said, “Being involved in a college community also means being a supporter of the community’s athletic teams. I would like to see more faculty and staff out there supporting the teams as well to help build community spirit.”