Opinion: Students at IWU should show up to sports events

By Farah Bassyouni Feb 24, 2023

When looking at old pictures of sporting events at IWU, the stands looked full of people and the student section was packed. Occasionally today, the atmosphere in the Shirk Center for a big basketball or volleyball game can be electric. Many students remember the excitement surrounding IWU’s Men’s Basketball Team when they were ranked no. 1-4 throughout the season and went to the NCAA tournament last year. But, it seems that attendance at sporting events has been lacking this year. Why is this? 

The first explanation is that Illinois Wesleyan University’s athletics program is plentiful and lively. In fact, athletes comprise 32 percent of the student body. This may seem like a contradiction to the problem at hand, but this phenomenon can lead to what may seem like a somewhat obvious issue. While games are going on, other athletes have their own practices or competitions that prevent them from attending. 

Another major problem is the lack of knowledge of sporting events among non-athletes. Students involved in athletics spend lots of time in Shirk and are aware of what’s going on. Athletes also tend to follow each other’s social media and are often friends with one another, seeing posts on Instagram stories and other teams’ accounts. However, those students who are not involved with athletics on campus are often unaware of the events and games taking place.

Illinois Wesleyan is known to be a school where academics take center stage. The rigor of our various programs prevents students from regularly attending athletic events. Students not only have frequent tests and homework, but are also heavily involved on campus with registered student organizations, research or greek life. On top of that, many students have jobs both on and off campus, often to support themselves and  begin beefing up their resumes. Despite keeping busy schedules and working hard, students should make time in their google calendars by maybe getting their work done a day or two early to attend sporting events and support their peers. Sports games for me have served as an excellent opportunity for a study break, even if it is just attending the first or second half of a game, it can completely take your mind off your numerous worries and responsibilities.

One issue this year is that although IWU still has robust athletic programs that are all doing quite well, none have broken out and had any of the massive success we all hope for. But this notion is frivolous. Only going to team games when they are having great success or on a playoff run is ridiculous. Athletes work extremely hard balancing practices and studies to play the sports they love, and it doesn’t make sense to only support their efforts when they win.

The greatest determinant of the excitement of any particular sports game is the magnitude of attendance and engagement of the spectators. We are very lucky to have a plethora of athletic teams as well as fantastic facilities, particularly for a Division III school. Students putting the attendance of sports games a little higher on their list of priorities would result not only in a more charged campus atmosphere but also some unforgettable moments to take away from college for us, the attendees.

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