I don’t believe Kenyon has ever been mistaken to be in the same tier as the University of Michigan or Kentucky in terms of college athletics. Kenyon doesn’t offer athletic scholarships like some of these larger schools, and every single one of Kenyon’s athletes is here as a student first and an athlete second. With the exception of free laundry at the KAC, Kenyon’s athletes aren’t given any special privileges that other, non-student-athletes cannot enjoy.
Simply put, being a student-athlete is a significant commitment both in terms of work and time. Student-athletes not only have to spend an enormous amount of time down at the KAC every week for practices, but they are also expected to perform just as well academically as other students. Athletes also occasionally have to miss out on critical classes because of a conflicting athletic commitment. Teams are sometimes away for entire weekends when they make lengthy trips to other states to play games at schools like Sewanee: University of the South or Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. It is truly incredible to me how student-athletes are able to manage themselves.
That being the case, it is embarrassing that many home athletic games have a dearth of student fans. I went to a cross-country home meet earlier this fall where I could count on two hands the number of Kenyon students who showed up to support the teams. Even the men’s soccer team, which have started 6-0 after winning last year’s North Coast Athletic Conference championship, has had some of its home weekend games attended by 100 people or fewer.
I can understand why it may be difficult or not make sense to games. You may just be a person who doesn’t really enjoy watching sports, and would rather spend your time doing something else, like studying or reading. Kenyon is a school that probably attracts people who would rather attend an a cappella concert or a play than an athletic event. I get it. Kenyon isn’t Duke University, where a significant portion of the school’s pride and spirit is based on the school’s athletic teams. Kenyon doesn’t separate athletes and non-athletes into two separate academic programs like other, more athletically focused schools sometimes do.
At the same time, that is exactly the reason why you should attend games. You’re probably in class with a lot of athletes. Your roommate might be a basketball player, or you might have the soccer team’s leading scorer living two doors down the hall from you. You may sit next to a swimmer in economics. Athletes are your classmates and fellow students, and they work hard to represent Kenyon on the athletic front.
I’m not a college athlete. But I ran cross-country and played baseball in high school and it meant so much to me when my friends, classmates, even people I barely knew, came out to support the team. We are a community, and we need to do a better job of actively supporting our athletes.
Noah Nash ’18 is undeclared from Washington, D.C. Email him at email@example.com