No cheers for Queen’s sporting spirit

The stands sit empty during a regular season football game.
The stands sit empty during a regular season football game.
Journal File Photo
Will Jock Harty’s seats be full come the start of the season?
Will Jock Harty’s seats be full come the start of the season?

sideline commentary

During the first weeks of September, it’s wonderful to be a Queen’s student. The streets of the Ghetto are littered with upper-year students eagerly returning to their sub-standard shacks.

Frisbees soar once again, rugged couches reappear on rotting porches, and friends torn apart by the insurmountable separation of summer rekindle their bonds in drunken reunions—“You’re the best, dude. No, seriously I love you.” In the background familiar war songs rise to a rousing crescendo, as unsure frosh begin to feel a part of the famous Queen’s spirit.

The cheers resonate through the campus streets, echoing assertions that indeed “we feel so good...oh, we feel so good...OH.” The spirit of Queen’s is alive and well during the early weeks of September, and one can’t help but feel a sense of pride to be a part of such a unique community.

Every year, like an overly confident Ottawa Senators fan, I believe that the glory will last. I think it’s the annoying cheers that suck me in, and probably that positive dude Orientation Round Table always hires to give the same speech about believing that you too can make rain noises. The common stereotype is that Queen’s is a school full of tradition and spirit. We apparently bleed the tricolour.

Sadly, as all upper-year students know and the poor first years will soon find out, the true spirit of Queen’s is not proud or optimistic. It’s actually apathetic and quite indifferent.

For two years I played on the men’s varsity hockey team and watched as parents, girlfriends, and occasionally housemates cheered the team on from the stands of Jock Harty Arena. During games against our cross-town rivals from RMC, Queen’s Bands would come and blast blood-rushing Queen’s war songs to an arena full of our future military. Yes, the fans from RMC packed our rink, while Gaels fans found more exciting places to be.

In a game against McGill in Montreal a couple of seasons ago, I sat on the bench and watched one the most exciting sporting events I had witnessed as a Gael. The highly publicized “Kill McGill” event brought about a hundred Queen’s fans down to Montreal to join us in our battle against their hockey team and fans. The atmosphere was incredible.

The two schools taunted each other with wildly inappropriate cheers, and the game’s intensity was incomparable to anything I have experienced as a Queen’s student. It was beautiful. We went on to win the battle with a couple of shorthanded goals, and the Gael fans celebrated their victory over the troubled fans of McGill with a night of debauchery in Montreal. That’s what university sports are about.

The emotion we experienced during that game disappeared the next weekend. It’s sad that fans do not come out to most varsity sporting events with the intensity of a “Kill McGill” event or a Homecoming football game.

The intensity that the crowd brings, while they are being entertained by a quality sporting event, temporarily brings the exhilarating spirit of Queen’s back to life. It is the spirit that can be found during Frosh Week and Homecoming events, and it is one of the things that makes this University traditionally so great. It is a tragedy to let that spirit die at the cold hands of student apathy.

The problem seems to be widespread. Richardson Stadium was packed for the Gaels’ football season opener, but it will be interesting to see how many more there are at the next game after the team’s 45-0 loss to Laurier.

Why does a student body that is supposedly spirited to the point of arrogance seem so indifferent to the quality entertainment our varsity sports teams have to offer? Why do our student-athletes not receive the support they deserve? The early weeks of September are overflowing with a sense of pride and passion for Queen’s. Why is this spirit destroyed after one week of classes?

The varsity teams at Queen’s have a lot to offer this year. The OUA is a high-quality league, and our teams are consistently competitive. It is unfortunate that many students repeatedly miss out on what our athletic programs have to offer. Each week there are numerous sporting events that are free to Queen’s students and offer exciting entertainment.

This year let’s keep the spirit of Queen’s alive beyond Orientation Week. Grab a schedule from the PEC or check out the Queen’s Athletics Website——and go support your athletic teams. Packing our arena, stadium, and gym with enthusiastic and crazy fans is the best way to recapture the famous tricolour pride.

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