Friday Night ‘Bites’: Empty stands common

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Zack Pumerantz
Campus News. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The locker room is quiet, whispering of prayers the only noise. As you sit up from your pre-game prayer, you feel the adrenaline being injected through your veins. This is everything you’ve dreamed of all your life, everything you prepared for. As the team converges to a unit, a march begins. You run out to the court with fervor. As you turn to look at the fans screaming and chanting, your limbs succumb to a numb feeling. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
In high school crowds were colossal, inhabited by stereotypical “soccer moms” and athletically obsessed fathers. Every football game you were surrounded by hungry fans, willing to rip the limbs from every opponent to get a win. Every basketball game was full of rowdy students and enthusiastic parents. “At high school games we were a raucous crowd, making fun of players and getting kicked out, it was a great time,” says Matthew Braunstein, a junior at the University at Albany and an avid basketball fan since high school. “It really propelled our team.” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The teams thrived off of that energy and every game was an event. While you shined as a basketball player, you weren’t good enough to get a scholarship at any school, just opportunities to walk-on. It’s unfortunate that your mother and father cannot afford to send you away to school. That is when community college is discussed. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
After enrolling at Nassau Community College, only ten minutes from your hometown of East Meadow, you arrive at the basketball tryouts. Dominating the tryout, you make the team, nervouss excitement upon you as you realize the talent around you. The lowest ranked basketball programs, community colleges have a parallel in their academics and athletics. Community colleges reside at the bottom of the food chain. Why has this occurred? Why do fans avoid community college games? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The answer is simple. The games are no longer an event, a family gathering, and a chance to see the neighbors and strike up conversation. The sport has become business, albeit low income and small-time. Community college games are exciting, albeit shoddy, with displays of passionate determination. Yet they fail to interact with the community and have the games become events for the school. Schools with much larger tuitions and much stronger teams have fan attendance that surpasses community colleges 100-fold. While it was a championship game, nothing diminishes the 93,293 fans that made it to the 2009 Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. It seems it is a record when more than 100 people decide to make appearances at a community college more than once. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The transition from high school to college is unique because of the adjustment an athlete must make to keep pace with older players. Without top talent and fans, how can a team thrive, let alone have desire? These athletes that attend big high schools are suited for a gargantuan fan-base and experience culture shock when they see the lack of fans to fill the seats. “It is an emotional factor, it affects their drive and will to step it up for the crowd,” says Brian Miller, a third-year student at Nassau Community College. “I have seen many games and especially remember high school, where fans went crazy and weren’t afraid to let loose.” Community college teams around the United States are thirsting for fans and need support. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Call it a cry for help, or a brief report regarding current news. Liberalists listen up. It is time change occurred. While community colleges lack the funding and drive to promote games, the surrounding communities don’t lack creativity. Someone needs to take the community on their shoulders to start the process, if only at first. Create flyers, hang posters, promote on hats and backpacks, along with other such items. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The problem begins with attitude. Most people see community college as another high school, clearly similar in academia, but subtly analogous in sports. “It’s just not the same event, the excitement is drained from the field,” says George Saide, a first year student at Schenectady County Community College in upstate New York. “It was once a family thing to do, a time for the family and the community.” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
These teams are desperate for fans, the same fans they embraced in high school only one year ago. What is the solution to the problem? How can community colleges persuade students and the rest of the commune to attend their games? As coaches ubiquitously preach to their players, teamwork is the answer. It seems the only way the problem can be solved is with leaders taking the community through tough times and persuading them to support the teams. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ed Krass gets the picture, “My proposal is to integrate rock and blues music and to shorten the dual match format.  The new ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll College Tennis Dual Format’ becomes an entertainment event for both the college campus and community.” In his discussion of college tennis on the Intercollegiate Tennis Association website, he provides a solution to the attendance problem. To increase attendance, one must create entertainment, an event. Simple it seems. Only time will tell. You hope for a future with screaming fans and rowdy, drunken mascots. Don’t hold your breath.

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