Attendance furies, not worries

Another school year means another debate about sporting event attendance at Queen’s. While it would be ideal if Queen’s athletes could look to full stands during every contest, ultimately, there are good reasons why this doesn’t happen.

Queen’s reputation for school spirit might lead someone to assume that the vast majority of sporting events on campus are heavily attended. The reality is slightly more disappointing.

Attendance looks especially sparse at many football and hockey games. Before dismissing students, however, anyone weighing in on this topic should think critically about its context.

Canada in general is not a sports-mad country like the United States. Only one professional sports league that operates in Canada consistently sells out games: the NHL.

If anything, Queen’s is above average in terms of attendance when compared to other Canadian campuses. We have higher than average attendance for football games; and volleyball and basketball games often get sizeable crowds.

Quite frankly, there’s nothing that makes sports more important than any other campus subculture. Where’s the annual handwringing over the fact that the theatrical productions staged in Kingston and on Queen’s campus don’t have greater attendance? Football games shouldn’t take precedence over everything else.

If Queen’s had better-located athletic facilities, then crowds at sporting events would undoubtedly be larger. Going off-campus to the Memorial Centre or to a crumbling Richardson Stadium greatly discourages attendance.

However, Queen’s shouldn’t necessarily make fixing these issues a central goal. Since interest in varsity athletics has diminished over time, should it really be re-emphasized as a school priority?

Queen’s has many fine athletes and they deserve support because we know them and want them to succeed. However, they don’t deserve more of our time than those students who have other pursuits. It doesn’t help matters that Queen’s athletic facilities are deficient, but it’s not clear whether many students care.

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