The fragility of Queens sports fandom

Attending Queens over the last four years has made me realize how much it has changed. Queens athletics is no exception.

When I arrived at Queens in the fall of 2008, sports fandom was dismal. The soccer and lacrosse teams did not have a sports complex, while the basketball programs were going through transitions in coaching staff.

During my sophomore year, fans started to show up to different sporting events on campus. Men’s basketball was always the sport with the highest attendance in the now-extinct Ovens Gym.

However, my junior year in the fall of 2010 semester, the Queens culture changed for the better. The soccer and lacrosse teams started to pull in a good amount of fans at their games. Even though the Sports Complex was off campus, fans still showed up to root on their Royals.

Volleyball attendance exploded along with both women’s and men’s basketball. Yet men’s basketball, despite a winning season, had trouble bringing in fans. The games were played on campus and students were not showing up to any games that were played during the weekday.

The low point in fan support was during the men’s basketball conference 2010-2011 playoffs. Queens basketball was ranked first in the conference and was getting ready to play Belmont Abbey in the playoffs. There were more Belmont Abbey fans in ‘The Oven’ than Queens students, many of whom lived on campus, a five-minute walk away.

Some students ask me what the Rowdy Royals are. The Rowdy Royals are a group of fans that show up to Queens sports games and cheer on the team. During the 2009-2010 school year, we showed up to the volleyball, women’s basketball, and men’s basketball games. If the team was winning, we’d cheer them on. If the team was losing, we’d cheer louder. But halfway through my junior year, the Rowdy Royals group of students started to fade away.

For women’s and men’s basketball, the homecoming game has the largest number of fans. After the homecoming game comes and goes, many Queens students just decide to not attend any other basketball games. It looks like there are a lot of people who jump on the “two homecoming basketball games” bandwagon and then just disappear.

Thankfully, my senior year has seen an even larger amount of students show up to soccer and volleyball games. The Oven and Sports Complex each attracted a large number of students each game.

But volleyball and basketball currently do not have the security blanket that soccer and lacrosse do. The soccer and lacrosse teams both have the Sports Complex for games, and students have the shuttle to drive them there if they do not want to drive their own cars.

However, volleyball and basketball are at a fragile moment in Queens history. Neither of two teams have a permanent building to play games in right now. The Grady Cole Center is just a temporary holding cell until the new Levine Center is completed in the coming years.

Just because the basketball and volleyball games next year will be played off campus, students still need to show up. Senior Day for the men’s basketball game had more parents there than students. That is pitiful, considering most the Queens students live closer to Grady Cole than most of the parents coming to the game.

All students have a busy schedule, but you have got to show up to the sports games. Without cheering on your sports teams at Queens, our school spirit will die.  Without any fans, the players have no one to win and play for but themselves.

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Published by students of Queens University of Charlotte, 1900 Selwyn Avenue, Charlotte, N.C. 28274.