Screaming Eagles help school spirit

This past weekend could have been one of the greatest in the history of AU sports. At the men's basketball game against Lafayette, our Eagles had a chance to take down the best team in the Patriot League this season. But the real reason this could have been a major weekend was the possible lasting boost in attendance. At the Lafayette men's game, over 1,700 fans showed up. The cross country team was in high spirits, painted and ready for action. They, like the faithful Screaming Eagles who attend every match, stood the entire game, prompting others to stand as well. We all cheered, heckled, yelled and screamed together for 45 minutes of intense basketball. This gave us hope for future large attendances. Our team lost a heartbreaker in overtime, but, with the exception of two egregious errors in judgment when misguided students threw objects onto the court and should have cost us the game, I don't think it is too much of a stretch to say that most of us enjoyed the basketball part of our evening.

Two days later, our team played another important game. We had to beat Army to keep hope alive for the Patriot League regular season title. We could also begin a tradition of packed houses and fervent support. How would our team and fans react? The team answered the call, pounding a helpless Army squad senseless. But the student "fans" were also senseless. A paltry 800 fans showed for the game, including a large contingent favoring the team from West Point. The Screaming Eagles were back, as always, but our cheers echoed in the rafters, not in the voices of other students. The men's team dropped the ball in the Lafayette game, but the students did in the Army game.

I doubt anyone expects to see many people at women's basketball games (though our team was tied for first place in the Patriot League), or at other sporting events throughout the school year. But men's basketball is the gauge by which college sports programs and their fans are measured. Sure, 50,000 fans may show up at a football game, but basketball games are where the fanatics come out of the woodwork and take center stage. We have fanatics, but can they be consistent? Some of us are, and there's no reason to think the rest of us can't be as well.

You don't have to join Screaming Eagles to make a difference. Wear your AU clothing or paint yourself in AU colors when you come to the games. Get to the games before they start, and pay attention once they begin. Stand and cheer for your team, because in the Patriot League, every single game matters. Wouldn't it be great to host the Patriot League final again? We can help our team get there. No educated basketball fan outside the AU lockerroom thought we had a good shot at beating Lafayette once Andres Rodriguez got hurt in warm-ups, but the team stuck it out with fans screaming support for them. We got up early, we hung in to the end, and we blew the game on our own. But the fans never sat, and we never shut up. Things were still looking up for AU sports, despite the score.

So why didn't anyone show up for the Army game? Why did most of those who came to the game sit quietly? Why are the adult fans on the other side frequently louder than almost all the students? Why do the opposing teams' fans embarrass us with large, loud crowds? Why can't people consistently come to the games, show up on time, and get into the spirit of the game? Is it that hard to get behind our team? After seeing the Lafayette game, it can't be because no one cares. We had an awesome crowd, and there's no reason to think we shouldn't at every single game.

So where is everyone? Why not keep coming to games? We only have three men's and three women's home games left this season, and both of our teams are in the hunt for Patriot League titles. Why not come out and make a difference, possibly helping to propel our teams to the NCAA tournament? Do you really think you would deserve to go to the NCAA tournament with our teams if you don't support them during the regular season? I know some diehard Screaming Eagles will be there. We'd love it if you'd join us at games, this season and in the future, including in the NCAA tournaments. After all, our shirts do read "We Are Home Court Advantage"

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