I would like to address the common student, the Jockey Club, the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO), all the fraternities, the promotion team, the varsity athletes, even Allan Rock, our prestigious president. You all, some more than others, bring shame to the Gee-Gees spirit.
Last December, I crossed the canal to watch a basketball game between the Gee-Gees and our rivals, the Carleton Ravens. What I saw completely put to shame whatever concept of school spirit I had. Walking into the Ravens’ nest, I felt like I was transported from a cold, dark Ottawa winter night into a scene from a Hollywood movie. The bright lights, the crazy fans, the cheerleaders — there was even a band, for crying out loud. They all convened under one roof on that Friday night with one purpose: to bring the noise. And they brought it again, and again, and again. Never in my three years at the University of Ottawa did I think I would envy Carleton University, but hey, you can’t be right all the time.
Following the game, I asked myself, “Why isn’t that school spirit present on our campus?” I then told myself that our passion for the Gee-Gees brand is just as good as ever, it was just an uncommon occurrence. Later that month, fate made it so that I shared a room with some varsity athletes and the topic of team support came up. By talking to them I came to the sad conclusion that our school spirit is virtually non-existent.
One thing an everyperson might say is that our varsity teams are not good, therefore they will not support bad teams. But seven of our varsity teams are ranked top 10 in Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS), including our football team which made the playoffs. The women’s soccer team was ranked first for the vast majority of the season, and the men’s basketball team is ranked second in the country.
I can throw facts and numbers at you all day, but that won’t cut it. To increase school spirit and attendance at games and events, it will take a collective effort from all parties. Even varsity athletes are accountable. The promotion team should do the best with the resources available and find new innovative ways to increase attendance.
A friend of mine once described Capital Hoops as a really big party where people cheer and have fun. Students who are always looking for a party should get a few of their friends, get ready together, and come to the game to make it that party. Fraternities and faculties should make events where they also promote varsity events because that’s what a proud school would do. The Jockey Club, whose members used to frequently attend games and cheer loudly for the Gee-Gees, should once more step up and prove that they are proud to support the garnet and grey. Selling some shirts and organizing a few social events is fine and dandy, but actually showing up and giving Gee-Gees support is more important.
The SFUO should be more involved in game promotions. Their job is in part to enrich the student experience, which is itself partly composed of varsity events. How can we be proud if our student leaders aren’t proud? Allan Rock tweets at athletes and gives generic messages of support, which is nice, but there must be more he can do. Could you imagine what a student would feel like if they saw their school president at a Gee-Gees game? Or even what the athletes would feel like? Lend some of your importance to the Gee-Gees.
School spirit is so much more than just wearing “Hung Like a Gee-Gee” shirts — it’s wearing them with pride at games so we can bolster our team in front of others. Otherwise, when we say we’re Gee-Gees, how can we mean it?
School chants should not be heard only during 101 Week, at Capital Hoops, or in drunken stupors at social events, but on a regular basis every time our teams compete at home. The change will not happen overnight, but we are capable of being prouder and more supportive of our varsity teams than we currently are. There are approximately 40,000 students on our campus, and I’m sure we can find a few hundred to fill up the stands.
Let’s give the U of O teams one of the best home-court and home-field advantages, not only in Ontario but in all of Canada.