Lions are often described as creatures built on pride, yet after a glance at the empty bleachers at York Lions’ games, pride would be the last word used to describe these scenes.
Over the past four years, York’s athletic teams have posted a mediocre 334-384-44 record in regular season Ontario University Athletics action.
When it comes down to it, the Lions simply cannot hang with the likes of McMaster or Western university, both of which, year after year, place in the top five during OUA championships as demonstrated in last year’s results.
So has York’s all too common poor athletic showings turned students away from attending games? Absolutely, I say.
Students attending university games share an unspoken bond with the players that makes both parties want the victory. When your school wins, you win. It doesn’t matter if you played in the game or sat on the sidelines screaming on the top of your lungs for an hour; everyone plays their own role in the sports’ community.
But when your school isn’t very good at sports, the feeling is not the same.
Some schools fall into a cycle where athletics are not seen as a priority. Students who attend these schools are aware ahead of time that their school does not have a very astute athletics program. Therefore they really have no interest in attending their school’s games, nor does the school attract many high-profile athletes out of high school.
Unfortunately, I believe York is dangerously close to falling into this vicious cycle.
Every student wants to take pride in their school, but if there is no progression on the field, there isn’t much pride to be taken in any of it. The latter statement is one that hangs over York like a storm cloud.
Football is arguably the most popular OUA sport. However,
the York Lions football team has not been able to earn a playoff birth since the days of Andre Durie back in 2007. In fact, the Lions have only won one game in their past four seasons.
It doesn’t matter how much of a fan you are, it is tough to watch your school lose week in, week out.
With increased training and more non-conference games against other teams, the Lions should yield better results
in OUA’s and in turn bring in a lot more students to the York stadium.
With a student body that hovers around 50,000 strong, home games at York should be jam-packed parties filled with
students cheering the Lions on to victory.
If Sport York begins to place a stronger emphasis on turning the page onto a new era in Lions’ athletics, it won’t matter if you’re from Winters or Vanier College: everyone will gather to enjoy the sweet taste of victory as our Lions climb to the top of the OUA standings.
She says: No.
I’d have to answer that with a commuter-school experience.
If you’re a student at York, then you should already be aware of our student body’s general lack of school spirit.
While other Ontario universities like Western or Laurier slap on tons of face paint in preparation for their school’s season opener, York students are either at Tim Hortons, drinking their weight in extra-large coffees, or at Scott Library, sneaking in a nap.
The fact is, York is a commuter school. Located on the outskirts of Toronto, York is home to students all over the Greater Toronto Area.
Many of us skip out on the entire university experience because we would rather get a spot in the dreaded 196 line instead of watching a late-night Lions’ game. Attending our school’s games are not at the top of our list of priorities; getting home is. Even I was guilty of this at one point. Instead of taking advantage of all the fun activities York had to offer, I’d just go to class and hop on a bus home once it was done.
Is this good for the York community? Absolutely not.
We have such a limited time at York, and we should be making the best of the resources presented to us, crazy, drunken fan-filled football games included.
In the past few seasons, the Lions have barely made the cut in order to compete at OUA championships. There were, however, some incredible performances last season by the men’s soccer team, who won six games in total, while women’s volleyball won a total of 12 games. But those were definitely the exception. Our football team has lost so many times in the past that it can be difficult to stay positive about its standing now.
Of course, the level of play and the Lions’ overall winning streak plays a role in attracting, or, in this case, repelling a certain percentage of students to support the team. If the Lions train harder this season and start to place higher up in OUA standings, I’m sure a lot more York students will show up to games. However, with that said, I don’t think that is the sole factor holding back York students from attending games.
I also think York can do their part in trying to stir-up school spirit among us students. Besides the occasional YFS representative interrupting your snooze fest during class and a couple measly posters around campus, there isn’t much that our university does to actively promote student-run activities on campus. In terms of homecoming games, Sport York needs to put themselves out there more by handing out flyers for the upcoming games, interrupting classes to get students’ attention, or posting updates on our fancy new flat screens all over campus.
Ultimately, because the majority of our student body comes and goes through campus so fluidly, it is crucial for York to start actively promoting the other aspects of student life, like attending York games in order for students to receive a well-rounded university experience.