Lewis & ClarkCollege of Arts & Sciences

The Weekly Wheel House: Unexcused absence

October 16, 2009

by Robin Aubry

If you’re in area with a mass of Lewis & Clark students (if you’re not, pretend), look to your left. Now look to your right. One in every five students that you see is an official Student Athlete. Indeed, over 400 LC students currently play in some form of intercollegiate, NCAA approved sport—and that statistic doesn’t include club sports like men’s soccer or ultimate. This is due to a surge of first year student athlete recruits, increasing the number of participants for every team (there were 322 student athletes last year).

However, student attendance to sporting events isn’t even near proportional to the amount of athletes we have. True, the numbers are significantly up from last year. Still, turnout is “far from great,” said LC Assistant Athletics Director Kristian Martin. For instance, the latest women’s soccer game on Sunday attracted a modest 57 fans. And since it was a game against neighboring Whitman, it’s fair to assume that a good chunk of the viewers were Whitman fans. The visiting team factor damages a number of attendance statistics that our games get. For instance, although over 1,000 fans went to the football game on Saturday, “about two thirds of the fans were for Willamette,” said Martin.

Moreover, a number of students, like Chris Khatami (’12), were there “for the dance team.” Another factor to be considered is that a lot of these attendees are student athletes themselves. Cross country attends every women’s soccer game, often in themed dress. The football team goes to volleyball games, and tries to taunt the opposing team. This is all great, but why aren’t non-athletes doing the same thing?

Martin was hired in early February of this year as primary liaison regarding information and communication for student athletics. Since then, she has spearheaded a number of projects to fill the seats to home games­—both at the stadium and at your desk. She is behind a new online service that lets you stream home games live from wherever you are. She is also behind the spiffy new posters you see around campus that advertise the dates and times for home games.
This has all been done in hopes of more Pios coming out in any shape or form to root for the home team, which is a bigger factor than you might think. “It definitely makes a difference, especially to the veterans. It’s something they aren’t used to,” said football player Siosifa Tonya (’13).
We’ve all heard of the cliché of home-field advantage. That advantage is often due to the back-up of the fans. Hey, the fans at Blazers’ games aren’t called the 6th man for nothing and the Seahawks certainly have a reason behind their 12th man flag waving in their stadium. This advantage leads to wins.

“The more success we have, the more attention we get,” said Martin. More attention means more fiscal support from sources like applications and donations. Staff members like Martin get to keep their jobs. Everybody wins. The efforts are starting to make an impact; football player Riley Mitchell (’12) said, “Our first game, we had more fans that ever before.” We still have a long way to go before our stands are packed, however.

Tonight is the Pack Pamplin event for the volleyball team. There will be some fun activities, raffles and a volleyball game between the ASLC and some staff members. I implore you all to fall on your swords and sacrifice that hour and a half to two hours of “study time” to go check it out. Let it not just serve as an evening of prizes, or watching Celestino Limas’s wicked spike, but as a sign of our growing enthusiasm for our fellow classmates.