… thoughts on school spirit

It is no secret that the St. John’s University men’s basketballteam isn’t having the best season. Fans have shown theirdispleasure with the team’s performance. But, shouldn’t fanssupport their team win or lose?

Sure, it is frustrating to watch your team lose to other schoolsthey should have beaten like Hofstra and Fairfield. You can’t helpbut get annoyed as you watch the opposing team’s score get higheras the minutes wind down on the clock. When your team is having abad spell, though, cheering them on is much more productive thancheering against them.

During games at Alumni Hall last semester, there were plenty offans yelling “Fire Jarvis” and other insults. How could thispossibly help the team? More than anything, it would cause adistraction for the five players on the court who are trying toscore much-needed points. When a team is already down, the lastthing they need to hear is their own fans yelling negatively atthem.

Mike Jarvis being fired in December has not been enough tosatisfy fans at the games. They now have a problem with interimcoach Kevin Clark and have taken to screaming insults at him.Although “Fire Clark” has not been heard just yet, there is stilltime. Jarvis and Clark are not the only people on the court toreceive insults. The players get them just as frequently. Themajority of us who are in the student section have no idea what itis like to be in their position. Everyone, especially the media inNew York City, has had a critical eye on the Red Storm. The dayafter they make a mistake, it’s all over the sports sections. Justbecause the media examines the team for every possible fault doesnot mean that the student section needs to as well. We should provethe team with the support they need.

As much as our student section has improved this year, it couldstill use some work. Compared to last year, the numbers of thestudents coming to games has been amazing. Before this year, whathe had at Alumni Hall wasn’t even considered a student section.There were SJU students who happened to sit near one another, butit pales in comparison to the sections that schools like UConnhave. The new student section in Alumni Hall is usually full offans sporting their red shirts, ready to be heard.

While students are cheering loudly, they just need to give somethought to what they are saying, because others are listening, aswe found out when New York Post columnist Lenn Robbins wrote acolumn about how bad our student section can be. Certain Red Stormfans didn’t appreciate the article, which they made known duringthe game after the article was printed. After booing Robins, onestudent was escorted out of the game. It would be a miracle ifevery single person in our student section could make it through anentire game without making any insults against our coaches orplayers.

Last year, the athletics department felt that the fan sectionduring the NIT championship games made a big difference in theoutcomes of each round and was an important factor in the Red Stormtaking home the trophy. The new student section has been a rewardfor this. Now, all the students need to do is prove that they stilldeserve such a section by showing they can support the team nomatter what. However, some students have proven that they shouldget a role of duct tape with their season tickets. If we all startfollowing the lead that was set last year, we might actually beable to do some good for the team.

Although the team had its fair share of problems, it has alsobeen doing some positive things this season. First of all, themembers of the team have been working hard to prove that theybelong on a Big East basketball team. If anything, they have moreto prove than any other team in the league. They have to show thatlosing a coach, not to mention senior stalwart Willie Shaw, doesnot mean that their season is over.

Even though the Red Storm have lost six of its last seven games,it has not been giving the games away. In many of the games thatwere lost, it was only a matter of about 10 points. When it came tothe Jan. 20 game against Georgetown, the guys only lost by twopoints, with a final score of 71 to 69. The team has certainly beenmaking its opponents work for the wins. Each time they step on thecourt, the players have shown heart and pride as they play for St.John’s.

The Red Storm broke free of its losing streak last weekend whenit beat UCLA at Madison Square Garden with the scoreboard readingSt. John’s 71 and UCLA 55. This isn’t something that a team thathas given up would do. Instead, the team is showing that theydeserve respect for their efforts and that they are aware of thehistory behind their program.

Also, St. John’s is still our school and the men’s basketball isstill one of our teams. It is easy to write off a team when it islosing and forget that you once cheered it on and proudly referredto it as “my team.” The challenge is to continue to call it yourteam even when it has lost more than it has won.

School spirit is about supporting our team and not making thingsharder on them than they already are. Maybe we can keep that inmind during the remaining games and show the St. John’s men’sbasketball team that we are on their side.

Jessica Lyons is a senior majoring in journalism who would liketo thank Joe Staszewski for all of his help with this column. Itwas much appreciated! Send any comments to [email protected]