Staff Editorial: Phyllis Bender

The annual Phil Bender event will showcase the Men's Basketball team this year as it battles bitter rival Holy Cross on Friday night. Last year students flocked to the arena in support of the team, but most people fled Bender like frolicking sheep in a thunderstorm before the ensuing women's game started. As a result, event personnel had to read through long lists of raffle numbers whose owners had already exited the building, making a mockery of the strategy to entice fans to stay for the women's portion of the doubleheader. This year, the women's game is before the men's game, which might attract more fans - if it weren't for the scheduled pre-game party in the Tavern during the game.

Phil Bender is a great idea to boost school spirit and support for athletics teams, even though it is sad that AU needs such an annual event because fans do not fill up the seats during most of the season. Having a pre-game party is also a great idea, but holding one at the expense of attendance at the women's game is embarrassing. If the theme of the week is really "Beat Holy Cross," that slogan should apply equally to the men's and the women's team. Of course The Eagle encourages students to attend the men's game as well, but this year, if the women win on Friday and on Sunday, they will win the Patriot League regular season title, which means they have a very good shot at the NCAA Tournament in March. The women's team deserves respect and attendance for its high performance this season.

Yet the athletics department has a part in this, too. The Eagle understands that men's basketball draws the most media attention, the most alumni, and the most outside interest in the school out of all the sports programs here - but it is sad that more money and marketing are not devoted to programs that are consistently dominant, such as women's volleyball. This Friday, instead of passively contributing to the garish gender rift in sports popularity, come out and support the women's basketball team - and the men's -and help fill Bender for both games.

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