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Give me a ‘C-H-E-E-R,’ please?

Casey Wells (#5) had 20 points, five rebounds, and three assists in GPC's 61-56 loss to Atlanta Metro State on Jan. 7. Photo by Ben Abrams.
Casey Wells (#5) had 20 points, five rebounds, and three assists in GPC’s 61-56 loss to Atlanta Metro State on Jan. 7. Photo by Ben Abrams.

Why students can’t and don’t come to GPC sporting events

By: Ben Abrams

On Friday, Nov. 14, I traveled to the Decatur campus with another writer to cover the Men’s basketball season opener against Lawson State. We arrived at the campus 45 minutes before the game started and walked into an almost entirely empty gym.

As we waited for the game to start, only a few people walked into the gym. When the tip-off happened at 7 p.m. there were an estimated 50 people in attendance to watch the team play. The Jaguars went on to win the game 45-41, but only a handful of people actually witnessed it.

A similar result of attendance happened three weeks earlier when the Men’s soccer team played their season finale against Darton State on Oct. 25 which ended in a 2-2 draw.

The Jaguars finished the season undefeated with a record of 14-0-1, the best season in the program’s history. Despite the great season, the only people who were in attendance for the game were the parents of the players.

The students may have been down on the team, because they lost their postseason privileges as a part of the sanctions issued by the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) in April 2014. This theory became questionable when The Collegian published articles relevant to the postseason ban.

The most common response our staff received was the students had no prior knowledge of the NJCAA sanctions or the ban taking place.

This begs the question: why is the attendance at GPC games so low? We came up with three possible reasons to explain the problem.

The locations of the games can be difficult to find. The basketball games are played on the Decatur campus. Tennis and Men’s soc- cer are played on the Dunwoody campus. Women’s soccer is played on the Clarkston campus, and baseball and softball can be seen on the Newton campus.

The scattered locations of the athletic programs make perfect sense for the students so they can have a sports team to represent their campus. The downside is that the locations can create a hassle for students to go see the games they want to go to.

The staff also wondered, “Do the students actually know about the teams at their school?”

While walking to class, the only promotions a student may see for any of the sports teams are a few posters showing the team’s schedule peppered around the campus.

The games themselves are free of charge, but they still feel like they are played for a league at a recreational center instead of a national collegiate athletic organization like the NJCAA.

The biggest common denominator of the attendance problem appears to be that the students have no time to attend the games in the first place.

“Many of our students are here part time, and they also have part time jobs,” Phil Smith, vice president of Academic Affairs, points out.

So asking a student to take time out of his or her schedule to attend a game can be asking for a lot.

The Jaguars athletic program is capable of putting a good product on the stage for the student body to enjoy, but the game day experience needs some improvement. Students feel that the atmosphere provided for them is not worth the time or travel to watch the teams play.

There is no doubt that GPC has the talent to put a fun and entertaining product on the field.

That said, the students will only show up at the games if the school gives them a reason to care about them.

About Farhin Lilywala

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