A few Friday nights ago I was running late to the Mines women’s basketball game against MSU Denver because I was working on homework. I leave the Student Center at 6:02 (two minutes after the scheduled start time), walk across an empty pedestrian plaza and can hear a faint pre-recorded Star Spangled Banner reverberating from the outside wall of Lockridge Arena. Okay, that means the band isn’t coming tonight. Walk up the stairs by the climbing wall, down the ramp to the student side of the gym and…
Am I seriously the only human (other than the ticket-taker) on the student side of the gym? The quarter goes on and one couple (who I presume to be parents of opposing players), and two students who went down to the bottom right corner by the court to sit next to their friend who helps work the game for the athletics department are the only other individuals to join me in the ‘student section.’
Sure, there were more people on the other bleachers, but it still was not very impressive. I took a photo with 2:27 remaining in the first quarter (a little more than 20 minutes after the scheduled start time). I counted 176 non-employees either in the bleachers or standing in the back. Of those, 20 were men’s players waiting before they played at 8:00, eight were cheerleaders standing at the baseline, 10 were Mines Dance Team members who were obligated to be there for halftime,and 36 were either sitting behind the MSU bench or wearing Roadrunners gear. That leaves about 102 genuine Mines fans who were not obligated to be there. Not to mention that the vast majority of those were family members of players who were most definitely not Mines students.
I get it, most people think they have better things to do on a Friday night. I’m not the typical Mines student, I pride myself on going to every CSM home athletic event that I am physically able to. I’ve been to basketball games over winter break with fewer than 50 attendees, and that’s understandable. We don’t go to some powerhouse Division I school with players who get drafted into the WNBA- but we have one helluva athletics program.
I think the most infuriating part of that game for me was the steady stream of people that filtered into the student section towards the end of the third quarter and proceeded to not pay much attention. For those who are uninitiated into Mines basketball culture, home series are typically played on Friday and Saturday nights, with the women starting it off, and the men’s game starting two hours later. The official attendance recorded for that women’s game was 317, as opposed to the 570 at the men’s game, but a good portion of 317 had (intentionally or not) walked into the women’s game as a result of being early to the men’s game. But the women’s game was arguably more exciting than the men’s game that night.
Last year I had the chance to talk to one of the women’s basketball players before the first season-opener. Since it was a non-conference contest, the men were out of town that weekend. I made a comment about it being nice not to have to share the gym with the guys last night. She replied to the effect of “well if it was a double-header there would at least be fans by the fourth quarter.”
Mines women’s basketball is flat out fantastic. The following night against Chadron State, the Orediggers hit six 3-pointers in the first quarter. The men hit seven in the entire first half that night. Now I’m not saying that the women’s team is better than the men, but they are both fun as hell to watch. As of the publishing of this issue, men’s basketball is 3rd in conference having won five of their last six games, and the women (riding an eight-game win-streak) are tied for 2nd in conference. Both teams are very competitive and have a lot to play for in their final five regular-season games. Go to them.
I’m no varsity athlete, but the amount of time our student-athlete classmates spend at practice and in the weightroom in addition to the classroom is mind-boggling. And I’d bet their GPA is higher than yours. So on February 21st and 22nd, show some respect and cheer on Mines basketball. That means getting to Lockridge at 6:00 on Friday and 5:00 on Saturday, because ‘pregaming’ the men’s game should mean ATTENDING the women’s game.