The Male Cheerleader Perspective on School Spirit

The debate has once again arisen like Patrick Ewing Jr. at the buzzer to reject a not so mighty Mountaineer. My input, albeit moot in terms of tangible influence (I like to think of my role as the former male cheerleader and alumnus as an abroad emeritus position with a salary of warm, fond memories), may provide a unique perspective as one who stood crossroads of student support and administrative backing or lack thereof.


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Though a proud member of Hoya Blue, I was little more than an enthusiastic voice in the crowd, and as a cheerleader, I’m still skeptical that the athletic department actually has a budget for a cheerleading squad; however, standing at the crossroads it provided then and continues to provide now a unique perspective through which to view the numerous matters plaguing Georgetown Athletics, what it is and what it could be.

More after The Jump:

This perspective in mind, I feel now it is time to take to my metaphorical megaphone and call the Hoya Nation to its feet: the symptoms which temper Georgetown Athletics are institutional, historical, and personal. The issues of Georgetown’s administration are numerous and much belabored athletically and institutionally as a whole; however, the issues with the administrative view of Georgetown Athletics was never more apparent than when faced with conference realignment this past fall.

Though the panic of the initial news has somewhat passed for the time being, no one feels as good about the future of the Big East Conference as one does about the past (the questions of are we better off now than we were four years ago or perhaps are we better off than we will be four years from now, are particularly apt). As a general fan and former cheerleader, I was upbeat and as you may suspect optimistic about what could be salvaged and what new opportunities this may create; however, as an alumnus I could not have been more concerned by the lack of concern apparent in the administration's addressing or lack of addressing of the problem.

In a recent admissions presentation reviewing the statistics of applicants, acceptances, test scores, etc. it was immediately clear that Georgetown’s admissions statistics hyper-inflate with the success of the basketball program, never clearer than in the early 80’s and more recently with the Final Four run, several years back. It’s an immediate correlation, it’s clear and obvious you would think to most. The basketball teams success = admissions success = financial success for the school and Georgetown Athletics as a whole, just run a budget check without basketball money and see how many donors and dollars the rest of the department pulls in (sadly not comparable to the international institution we like to think of ourselves as). In response to conference realignment, it was proposed that a small catholic school league would be sufficient to sustain success levels among other ideas (visions of a permanent return to McDonough and JTIII and II’s prompt departure danced in my nightmares).

The point is that such a shift is considered acceptable, it’s okay. That’s not why people don’t go to games; rather that’s why we should all be scared for the future. However, when the institution views that Athletic Department as something extra (basketball, that sport that keeps the rest of the Athletic Department from operating at a loss) it makes for a set of priorities that doesn’t result in putting fans in the stands. This general attitude permeates throughout the institution complimenting the efforts of my Hoya Blue faithful who should not be faulted for being their die-hard, though perhaps cliquish, selves. Unfortunately, it’s not a change here and a change there, it’s an entire attitude adjustment that is needed to allow the past to remain prologue.

Historically, Georgetown is a small-liberal arts college, fortunately, located in Washington, D.C. I note the location because without it, I’m not sure this debate’s happening because Division 3 doesn’t have this many people on its blogs. Georgetown became relevant first because of academic prowess, prestige, and location. Case in point, I can even point to my own personal experience: I didn’t apply to Georgetown because it had a basketball team (though I admittedly could and in hindsight (3 big east tournament finals appearances, one tournament champions, and a trip to the final four later, not to mention two regular season conference titles) should have); rather I applied because of everything else, the Athletics, consistent with the institutional outlook, discussed above, was just something extra. In hindsight, Georgetown Athletics, litters my college memory bank, largely defining my college experience in many numerous ways. However, that’s based upon my experience, which wholly unique to itself and nearly completely disparate from the alumni fan base’s understanding of what Georgetown Athletics is and/or could be.

Amongst the alumni, yes guy wearing a tie and white button-down, Georgetown Athletics is still just something extra. Surely there are notable exceptions, the Hawaiian shirt guys, the founders of Hoya Blue, and a collection of fans who have sat at half-court since my Georgetown Athletics experience began, just to name a few, but on the whole Georgetown Athletics was just something else happening in the Multi-Sport facility other than intramural soccer, it didn’t pull them out of their bed on Saturday mornings, and I’m not just talking about noon games at Verizon (with last year’s football performance being the exception ask how many non-athletes have attending a football game in the past 5 years).

The attitude adjustment I speak of must ascend to the administration, but it’s rooted into the history of the university, not that that history isn’t something to be proud of, but it’s not realistic going forward. Small-liberal arts schools don’t alter the athletic landscape, and they don’t get recognized for their fan base, unless one of us get’s elected, discovers something, or starts a war. This brings me to my most personal point. The change has to start from the bottom, because the administration won’t change unless it has to, see Conference Realignment solutions above, the history is what it is, so now we must begin anew. It must start with students. Students like the ones in Hoya Blue, like the ones who could care less about Hoya Blue but show up anyway, students that are willing to suffer through the travesty that is being somewhere at noon on a Saturday (SERIOUSLY, it snowed prior to a Villanova game several years ago, shutting down the airports, cabs, and much of the city, and I, and many other students, literally did walk there in the snow and walk uphill on the way back (to note, the administration was okay if the cheerleaders couldn’t make it to that game, which goes toward the administrative point above, it should have been a big deal). You go to a University that charges admission of $65,000 (it’s definitely more right?) a year, you can probs spring for the less than $200 that student tickets are going to cost (we don’t all come from affluent backgrounds, but even still the economic makeup of Georgetown isn’t what’s hurting attendance).

The Institutional and the Historical are what they are and they will be so long as that is what the Personal attitudes of students are what they are, they won’t change, because they don’t have to. I know I wish we could walk on a yellow brick road through munchkin land on the way to Verizon as well, but say it ain’t so. Bottomline get up and go, and don’t complain. If you don’t go, it’s because you don’t want to, because a metro ride and a bus aren’t "hard", if they are good luck post Georgetown. I’m sure your internship on the hill always conflicts with gametime, mine did to, it’s called bring the uniform to work and walk from the hill to Verizon. Could it be easier to get student’s to games if they were right on campus sure, but it’s not and last I check the plans for the on campus arena don’t exist. Bottom line is basketball isn’t your priority or it’s not a high enough priority to get you to the stadium, it’s a choice. If you’d like things to change make different choices.

Until next time: We Are! And Hoya! Also, while I do admit to being a fan of fruit smoothies from Midnight Mug, I never once ordered one with whip or vanilla. Though I may have occasionally mixed flavors, it’s not like you were chopping blueberries and strawberries back there, the stuff came in a container, and I’m pretty sure you pumped it into a blender with ice and water, also you got paid and tipped (if it wasn’t sufficient payment, I didn’t make you work), so check your facts and serve with a smile.

Stay Casual, my friends.

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