There is something exhilarating about having fans at your game. As an athlete, I can attest to the fact that you have a certain edge when the crowd is on your side. It adds pressure, yes, but having people in the stands supporting you makes a difference. Home field advantage is certainly not make believe.
Attendance at the baseball and softball games yesterday was higher than it has been all season. In fact, it was likely higher than it has been in the past four years. The weather was not particularly wonderful, the games not particularly important in the race for conference rankings. However, there was something particularly different on the ball field.
Yesterday, some of my softball teammates chose to wear red, white, and blue ribbons in their hair to honor the playing of the national anthem. Some did not. Regardless of our own opinions, we stood together on the third base line to listen to the anthem and the peace prayer. Then we got around to the real reason for being there: we played ball.
From my point of view on the field, if people are attending athletic events for any reason other than to support the athletes competing, they have missed the point entirely. Our purpose for being on the field yesterday was not to be a case study for how the new policy works. Our purpose was not to provide a venue for those who wanted to see possible protests or confrontations. The only reason we have been training, conditioning, and practicing for the past 7 months was to play the game.
If, as a campus, we want to be hospitable to others, then we also need be hospitable to our own athletes. I think we failed at this yesterday. Though our team played at home, the crowd was not on our side. The onlookers who left soon after the peaceful playing of the national anthem let us down.
As dialogue surrounding the decision continues, I hope and pray that genuine support for our athletes also continues. So consider this an invitation: come out to the baseball diamond, the softball field, and the track. Come support the athletes who give their all everyday.
So come join us. We’d love to have you.
Senior molecular biology
major and softball player