Death of the Dance Team
During this upcoming basketball season, halftime entertainment may be hard to come by.Ã¿Eagles' fans are used to seeing the AU dance team perform various numbers in their blue velvet jumpsuits; however, lack of funding and fan interest has caused the team to fold.
When former Athletic Director Tom George left, the dance team budget fluctuated.Ã¿While it is unclear if the uncertain budget led to the team's demise, a lack of participants surely spelled the end.
No one can say for sure that with more money, the dance team would have stayed together; however, no one can argue that, with greater funds for advertising as well as recruitment and the promise of new uniforms and coaches, the dance team would still have been in existence.
Last year, the team was packed with freshmen and sophomores who represented a bright future for the dance team.Ã¿This bright future was poised to provide a welcome distraction from the tension of Eagles' basketball for years to come.Ã¿It may not have been varsity level, but the dance team certainly allowed fans to stay entertained during the 15-minute halftime.
While it would be farfetched to say that spectators attended games just to see the dance team, it would be wholly inaccurate to say their presence was not noticed.Ã¿They always received loud cheers after their physically demanding and aesthetically pleasing performances.
And if fans were not pleased with their performance, there was always the issue of the blue velvet uniforms to talk about.Ã¿Coming from the school of thought that any publicity is good, the dance team couldn't have been upset at the occasional joke about the unique outfits.
This year; however, all Eagles fans will have is the cheerleading squad and the various halftime games, which last year included two people tied with Bungee cords trying to shoot three-pointers and free throw shooting contests.Ã¿
The cheerleading squad is great, but fans see them on every free throw as well as after most baskets.Ã¿Therefore, the dance team was a welcome, high-energy change.Ã¿ And the halftime games were often boring, and only occasionally wacky enough to be laughable.Ã¿This year, a full slate of halftime three-point shooting contests featuring some of "AU's finest athletes" will get real old real quick.
And what about during timeouts?Ã¿There's only so many times a fan can hear "Eye of the Tiger" and take it seriously.Ã¿Eagles basketball head coaches Jeff Jones and Shann Hart seek privacy during timeouts and get it because the dance team is rocking the crowd with their acts to songs like "Dirty" and "Welcome to the Jungle."
The folding of the dance team is just the latest in a long line of Eagle miscues this past year, including the almost defunct Screaming Eagles.Ã¿On this campus, people (myself included) often complain about lack of fan support; however, losing the dance team is a step in the wrong direction to solving this problem.Ã¿It stimulated fan excitement and elicited some type of reaction from almost every fan in Bender Arena.
In a year when both the Men's and Women's teams are the Patriot League favorites to make the NCAA Tournament, the scene in Bender should be frantic and excited. However, the dance team will not be adding to the lore as its members have done for the past several seasons.
Who's at fault for the demise?Ã¿Is it the Athletics Department, for lack of funding? Is it the girls who formerly comprised the dance team, who left to pursue other ventures?Ã¿Or is it the other girls on campus who chose not to join the team?Ã¿
No one group can be blamed for this debacle, but the demise is a combination of factors from many groups failing to work together. The only ones who lose are those in the AU community, who no longer have the pleasure of the dance team's halftime performances to look forward to.
I don't know the particulars of why the dance team folded, but I can promise that by the 47th time fans hear that popular Rocky tune during a timeout and the occasional "We Will Rock You," we will all be begging for the days of the dance team and its always entertaining performances ... and uniforms.