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UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Where’s The Love?

Welcome to nearly 700 words of my opinion on the athletic programs. If you’re a typical student who’s reading the back page of the paper because you’re stuck in class and don’t want to crack the textbook, look out. I’m coming after you.

I’m qualified to write an opinion piece on the state of Beacon athletics because I’ve spent hours training as an athlete, time in the stands rooting on other sports and an eternity as Bobbi the Beacon. In fact, I can guarantee that I’ve spent more time in the sauna-like mascot suit than any classroom full of students has spent as fans.

I’m not just a writer hiding behind my computer. I’m an actual living, breathing athlete at UMass Boston. Most students on campus don’t know, and worse, don’t care about the 16 varsity Division III men’s and women’s athletic programs.

Case in point: in a conversation with a classmate, I mentioned that I play baseball. This unnamed person had the audacity to respond, “They play baseball here?” Not only was he questioning my honesty, but his ignorance of our athletic existence troubled me.

If people don’t know about the athletics, perhaps they need to be marketed more, some may think (although multiple pages of the Mass Media and flyers littering the campus seem to suffice). No, the problem doesn’t lay in getting the word out. The problem lies in the heart of the student.

I love so many things about the athletic programs at UMass Boston. Starting with Chancellor Motley (a former athlete himself) and Vice Chancellor Charlie Titus, we couldn’t be blessed with more enthusiastic and energetic leaders. The coaches are passionate and recruit tirelessly. In addition, the Clark Athletic Center is one of the crown jewels in the collegiate Boston sports scene, and our programs are winning more than ever. So where is the support?

Are the games not free enough? I can’t understand how the student body became so apathetic regarding athletics. They’re entertaining (nothing’s faster or more fun to watch than men’s hockey), traditional (Titus, the men’s basketball coach, has been leading the Beacons for over 30 seasons), convenient (centralized location of the Clark Athletic Center, soccer and softball fields), and free (FREE!).

Most students work over 20 hours a week and have 12 to 16 credits, which makes for a busy schedule. But honestly, you’re never too busy to drop in once a month to watch us perform our craft. Sure, we play because we like the game, and would play to a crowd of zero (which might one day happen) if we were forced. However, we also play so that we can proudly tell people, “I am a college athlete.” This raises the question: if you’re a college athlete but no one’s around to see it or care, is it important? The answer in my heart is yes, although it grows fainter.

I must admit; I was adopted into the Beacon family. I was born a Titan, as I attended Cal State Fullerton for three years, where I was not an athlete. With a student population of 36,000 students and only 3% living on campus, there was a definite commuter feel to the school, much like UMass Boston. Sometimes, the athletic events took an attendance hit, but when people got together in Titan Gym for basketball or came to Jerry Goodwin Field for a rivalry baseball game, the campus was never more alive.

People will doubt the importance of sporting events, but my strongest sense of school pride and campus unity came at those well-attended games. It wasn’t so much about the game anymore; it was about feeling important in the same time and place just like the student next to you.

Every athlete seeks admiration and approval for their hard work and stellar play. Being a college athlete takes so much more than meets the eye, and all they want from the student body is a little love. So reach out, and take the first step: a women’s and men’s hockey home doubleheader, Friday February 15.

It’s free, so ditch the apathy and spread the unity.