For the good of the team, please keep those butts in the seats

Gaels’ tight end Christopher Ioannides tries to catch a pass in front of near-empty stands that were full just before halftime of Queen’s nailbiting 52-49 win over Guelph on Sept. 7th.
Gaels’ tight end Christopher Ioannides tries to catch a pass in front of near-empty stands that were full just before halftime of Queen’s nailbiting 52-49 win over Guelph on Sept. 7th.

Making my way to Richardson Stadium’s interview area after the frosh week football game between Queen’s and Guelph, I found myself embarrassed answering a newspaper writer from Guelph when he leaned over to me and asked, slightly under his breath so the Queen’s Athletics folks wouldn’t hear him, “Hey, where’d all the students go after the half?”

I found myself in a similar situation during last year’s Homecoming game when the Western Gazette’s sports editor asked me the same question after halftime.

Queen’s is a school built on tradition, and students have certainly created an interesting one: show up part of the way into a football game, then leave at the half.

Former Gaels’ running back Mike Giffin addressed the problem last year before Queen’s Sept. 13 game agianst the Wilfred Laurier Golden Hawks.

“It’s always demoralizing for me,” told the Journal. “Why come to a game if you’re only going to stay until halftime? I just don’t understand it. … It’s pretty disappointing as an athlete to have your fans leave halfway through a game.”

That disappointment finds its way onto the scorecard. In my four years at Queen’s, I’ve been around for six “big-attendance” games; three frosh games and three Homecoming games. In those games, the Gaels score the most points (a combined 91) and concede the least points (a combined four) during the second quarter. What’s so special about the second quarter? Well, that’s when all the students have made their way past the Student Constables, found their way into some seats, and the atmosphere really kicks off.

The third-quarter statistics are also telling—the Gaels scored a combined 42 points in the third quarters of those games, less than any of the other quarters. What happens in the third quarter? Well, after hearing an inspiring halftime talk, the players run through the tunnel to find the seats on the student side almost completely empty after being full a mere 10 minutes earlier.

Call me old fashioned, but I’ve always believed one should stick around and support their team, no matter the performance. After all, students are the people most closely tied to the football team, aren’t we? Parts of our fees go towards funding them. Why can’t we sit and spend a few hours watching our team while Kingston residents who’ve paid for entrance seem to have no problem with it over on the alumni side?

So the question is; what to do? Queen’s Athletics has tried to make football games a more everyone-friendly event. There are cheerleaders, bands and BooHoo the Bear. There was even an awesome impromptu battle of the marching bands during last year’s Homecoming game against Western. If you don’t come for the football, stay for the cheerleaders flying through the air and bagpipes.

Maybe we should stay for the good of our fellow students. The numbers don’t lie—the team notices when students leave, even when they’re polite and do it at halftime so the team doesn’t see. There might be a wild ending to a game, like the 52-49 thriller against Guelph a few weeks ago that the vast majority of the people who started out in the stands never saw. Those who have done theatre or musical performance surely know it’s disheartening when people leave halfway through a performance. It’s no different for athletes.

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