Opinion: Support your Eagle athletes

Don’t let Sunday’s women’s basketball game in Cheney become a Zag home affair


Bailey Monteith

Fans watch on as the EWU women’s basketball team beat Simon Fraser 72-66 in a home exhibition on Sunday. There were 166 people in attendance, below last year’s regular season average of about 600.

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.

With an exhibition win under its belt, the EWU women’s basketball team opens the regular season with a home game against Gonzaga on Sunday. Kind of. The game will be in Cheney, but whether or not it’s a true “home” game is still up in the air.

See, EWU students are not exactly the biggest supporters of their female Eagles teams. I wrote about it in an opinion piece back in issue one and used the back-to-back championship soccer team as an example.

Soccer may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but now the basketball team is taking the court. Last season, the EWU women’s basketball team averaged about 600 fans per game. In comparison, the men’s team tallied over 1,500 fans per game, according to box scores.

A student body’s inability to support women’s teams is not an issue everywhere. Gonzaga is an example of a school that has a large following for its women’s basketball team. Last year, the Bulldogs averaged over 5,500 fans, and sold out their 6,000-seat arena three times.

With Gonzaga located less than half an hour away, it’s not unrealistic to think their fans could travel to the game in Cheney. EWU head coach Wendy Schuller acknowledged this.

“It’s got to start with the Eastern fans buying the tickets instead of the Zag fans,” Schuller said. “Hopefully we can have a lot of Eastern red instead of Gonzaga blue and red in those stands on our home floor. It is a home game and needs to be treated like one by not just us, but by our fans.”

There isn’t much we students can do about the paid sections of Reese Court. Expecting a big turnout of non-student Eagles fans is unrealistic. And there is nothing we can do to stop Zag fans from coming to the game. But we don’t have to let them go unopposed.

We have the power to fill the student section. And because EWU students get in to all athletic events for free with student ID, it won’t even cost us. And if we turn out in large numbers, we can pack the student section and make our presence felt against the large amount of Zag fans sure to be in the arena.

If we don’t, our Eagle athletes will be forced to face a hostile crowd on their own home court. And in their home opener no less. The idea of our arena being overrun by opposing fans should be offensive to any student with school spirit.

So, let’s not let it happen. Go Eags!