Yesterday I posted about mock trial, one of the activities that dominated my four years in high school. Today, I’ll post about an activity that dominated my four years in college. This won’t be out of the ordinary for my blog, though: it’s about Harding basketball.
For several years, I was a self-proclaimed Rhodes Rowdie at Harding. I didn’t paint my face, and I wasn’t one of the guys standing down on the floor, but I attended every home game and screamed my lungs out to root on the Bisons. Starting my sophomore year, I started tracking some stats and writing about the games, and that eventually turned into what you’re reading most of the time on this blog.
I’ve defended the seemingly crazy idea that a person would root so hard for a Division-II basketball team. At least when I was at Harding, the games were a whole lot of fun and a great stress reliever.
Now, I’m not so sure. Average attendance was down to 2,095 last year from 2,420 in 04-05, but the team was also down somewhat in both of those years. I guess you could say that the attendance numbers were catching up with the perceived decline in the quality of on-court play. Of course, we’d love for there to be the same number of fans regardless of the team’s record, but that’s probably not a reasonable expectation.
So, it should be no surprise that attendance is on pace to be down even more this year. So far, the average attendance at home has been 1774, but when you take into account the home games that were played with no students on campus, I would expect the final number to be in the 1850-1900 range, which might knock HU out of the NCAA’s yearly rankings (which usually include the top 15 D-II schools). That’s about 2,200 for the home games when students are around, but you would usually expect about 2,500-2,600 for those games in a given year.
A group of upperclassmen is trying to change that, but they’re not going about it in a way that’s likely to bring any kind of positive result. They have posted a set of rules on the “official” Rhodes Rowdies Facebook message board designed to bring back the old atmosphere, but I find them overly restrictive and almost entirely without merit. Here’s the list:
RHODES ROWDIES RULES:
1. Black and White paint. Paint and skin is OK, no gold.
2. Wear ALL BLACK AND WHITE if you are on the front line. No other colors… Black and White.
3. Front line is based on senority based on yrs of participation.
4. Paint is to be intimidating. Nothing “cute”, “funny”, or “sweet”. No hearts, stars, or happy faces, unless the face is a complete painted face and its purpose is not to be “happy”
5. The MEN of the front line begin the chants and keep up the spirit of the Rhodes.
6. There are 3 major leader of the Rowdies, based on senority (see rule 3) Let the leaders rule. This years leaders who stand out are Josh Lee, Bryan Labello, and Jake Wood.
7. Do NOT over-use chants.
8. Be MEN
9. Be INTIMIDATING
10. Be LEADERS
Any questions? Ask a Leader of the Rhodes Rowdies.
I know I’m not the only person who finds this list to be totally ridiculous. It completely violates the spirit of the Rhodes Rowdies and any semblance of sportsmanship and respect for others. There are plenty of great fans (maybe the best ones, given the evidence from the above post) who are ladies and underclassmen. They deserve the chance to lead cheers and stand on the floor just as much as the arrogant senior guys do. If they get to the games early and take people’s “reserved spots,” so be it. If they’re out of step with acceptable chants, these guys have the influence to override them and influence them in a far more reasonable way.
If you ask me, the underclassmen and ladies need to stand up for themselves and show these guys what it means to be a Rhodes Rowdie. Wear a little gold, stand down front, be just as rowdy as they are, and be even more inventive with your cheers. The guys making these rules don’t rule the school, and you shouldn’t let them. Don’t let them guys ruin the fun for you and everyone else who wants to see the Rhodes full again. The last thing Harding needs is another set of poorly-thought-out rules.