Opinion: EWU women’s teams deserve fan support

Jeremy+Burnham+is+The+Easterner%27s+managing+editor.+

Jeremy Burnham is The Easterner’s managing editor.

By Jeremy Burnham, Managing Editor

Jeremy Burnham is the managing editor for The Easterner. The opinion expressed in this article is his own, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Easterner’s editorial board.

It is fall sports season again, and new and returning EWU students are ready to proudly support our Eagles. The football team is looking to avenge last season’s playoff snub, and Eagle faithfuls showed up in large numbers to the first home game last month, despite school being several weeks away at the time.

Meanwhile, another EWU team, a team that is the defending back-to-back Big Sky Conference champions, played a handful of home games in front of mostly empty bleachers. I’m of course talking about the EWU women’s soccer team. The squad, which was picked to win a third straight BSC title in the preseason coaches poll, often plays in front of a hundred or so fans, made up of mostly parents and family members. Sometimes, there are almost as many fans of the opposing team present as there are Eagles fans.

You know who does not show up to these games? Students. And that’s too bad, because they have missed quite a show. These last two years, not only did the Eagles win the conference championship, they did so by winning a tournament hosted right here in Cheney. And in last year’s championship game, attendance was right in line with what it had been in the regular season.

In addition to the championships, Eagles fans missed out on seeing one of the most successful athletes in EWU history, Chloe Williams. In Williams four years as an Eagle, she made the All BSC First Team four times, won back-to-back MVPs in 2016 and 2017 and set the conference records for most career points and most career goals. She had four historic seasons at EWU, but few students can say they witnessed any of them.

College students as a group talk a lot about gender equality, and are very vocally supportive of fair treatment of women. However, here at EWU, we don’t support our female athletes as much as we should. All athletes love playing in front of loud, supportive home crowds. Male EWU athletes get this privilege, female athletes do not. Come on Eagles, its 2018.

Now, it is true that soccer is not everyone’s thing. But this trend follows the other sports as well. The volleyball team also often plays in front of very small crowds at Reese Court. In 2016, the men’s basketball team averaged over 1,500 fans per game, and the student section was often crowded and loud. The women’s basketball team averaged about 600 fans per game, and the student section was mostly empty.

Fans came out in large numbers to see Bogdan Bliznyuk break the school record for points. They stayed home when Delaney Hodgins did the same thing the next week.

It isn’t like this everywhere. When the EWU women’s basketball team traveled to take on Gonzaga last year, they played in front of a nearly sold out arena of 5,394.

Of course, attracting college basketball fans to EWU games is not as easy as attracting them to Gonzaga games. We won’t draw as many fans from Spokane as the Bulldogs do. But there is one group of people who CAN make sure there is a large and rowdy fan base at each game: the students. The students can make sure their section is full every home game, and give our Eagles the support and experience they deserve. Go Eags!