Junior Ethan Ham beats the Buckingham defender, takes a shot and scores. He turns to celebrate with the cheering fans—and is greeted by a row of empty bleachers.
That’s the Country Day stands, of course. The Buckingham stands are packed.
This kind of turnout isn’t unusual. Even at a Friday afternoon home game, players can expect a turnout of four or five students at best, despite the best efforts of the team to increase attendance.
Students, and some faculty, somehow think that it’s O.K. to not support the SCDS sports teams. When players ask if students are attending the game, they are met with “No I’m not, but I’m going to Homecoming” 90 percent of the time.
How is that supposed to help? Is the team supposed to envision how great the fans are going to be at Homecoming and just ignore the empty bleachers at every other game?
Lack of attendance isn’t entirely the fault of the students. Maybe the school could find a way to make more students want to attend. In a recent Octagon poll, 70 percent of students said that having drinks or snacks at the games would make them more likely togo.
Parent Abdul Esmail, president of the Sports Boosters, said that a pilot food-and-snack program had been implemented but was shut down due to lack of fan participation.
However, Esmail says the program could come back if more people attended the games.
“If parent participation and attendance increase, we will consider, in conjunction with the Board of Trustees, building a permanent snack bar structure in the soccer playing area,” he said.
The responsibility for increasing enthusiasm for the games also falls on the seniors, who have the worst game attendance of any class. Only seven seniors have made it to at least one game aside from Homecoming, whereas 15 freshmen have.
Former soccer coach Daniel Neukom said that attendance at the games he coached was much better, even though the school was smaller at the time.
“We could usually get 20-30 people out at each game,” he said. “When the girls’ team was really good and playing in championships, we could get upwards of that.”
I understand that people are very busy with homework and clubs, but is there is practically no excuse for being unable to attend a home game on Friday.
Imagine if Ethan and the rest of the team could look over and see their fans cheering wildly—instead of the glare of the sun off the empty bleachers.