By Victoria Gill & Sam Rubin
Opinion Editor & Elm Staff Writer
Football, some would say, is an essential element of the college experience.
While Washington College offers a variety of sports: volleyball, soccer, tennis, basketball, field hockey, lacrosse, swimming, rowing, sailing, and other intramural sports, there is no trace of a football team.
One of the growing problems at WC has been the student body’s lack of support for the athletic program. This problem could be attributed to an absence of advertising, but I feel that the issue runs a bit deeper than that.
Colleges all across the United States have offered football programs since the first college football game was played in 1869 between Rutgers and Princeton.
WC abandoned their team around 1951 due to the aftermath of World War II and the onset of the Korean War which would mean fewer male enrollment. This decision was to alleviate the financial situation of the College, which surprisingly mirrors what is happening today.
Do I wish WC had a football team? Sure; I think the lack of a football program is the reason the student body does not attend sporting events.
It is widely advertised when introducing the College that there is no football here. It seems to be a pretty even split as to whether there is a true desire for it.
Some believe that the school and its students miss out on a key component of college life. Others believe that the problem stems not from the school’s lack of a football team but from a general lack of school spirit.
“The team’s lack of success was disheartening for the college community as it struggled to get excited about a program in which wins were few,” written in the WC Revolutionary College Project by ’07 graduate Justine Hendricks. The seemingly endless string of losses was trying on the fans as well as the players, but when the football team kept fighting, the fans kept cheering for them. School spirit was encouraged and commended.
I think pep rallies could help increase school pride and interest in WC sporting events. Many sporting events that have successful turnouts are because people are able to gather and generate morale before them. War on the Shore and some baseball games have had successful turnouts because people “pregame” the events.
Lastly, better advertising in town and on the internet could definitely help get the Chestertown community more excited for WC sporting events and more involved with the WC community in general.
While I wish WC had a football team, its lack of a football team is not the reason why WC students are not excited to watch their college teams play. Better advertising coupled with making the at-game experience more interactive and memorable could definitely help boost game day attendance.
“Unfortunately, when the WC football team faded away more than half a century ago, its legacy also disappeared. The story of Maroon and Black football is not exactly epic, but it is full of rivalries, injuries, tough losses, big wins and even a state championship, history that deserves to be remembered and appreciated for years to come,” Hendricks wrote.
Apparently, gathering football documents in the WC archives, the sports team was never as ingrained into the campus identity as the teams of other universities and small colleges. However, throughout the most depressing losses, the student body should take more time and care into incorporating support for their athletic peers just as much as the arts or sciences. While school spirit is lacking, there is an opportunity to get out of one’s comfort zone — even if you are unfamiliar with sports — to experience the rush of community engagement.
“I think there’s a problem with the culture overall, rather than a problem with us not having a football team,” junior Michael Hershey said. “People just need to get out and go to events, athletic events or otherwise. I know everyone has a lot of course work and seniors have thesis to work on, but, realistically, we’re talking about an hour to an hour and a half, max, and all you have to do is get out to the field or court, cheer for the WC team and show your WC pride, which shouldn’t be very hard. A football team won’t change a lack of school spirit.”