As the Georgetown football team traded handshakes with the Colgate players and coaches following a 40-17 homecoming victory, the packed grandstands of Multi-Sport Field filled the air with resounding applause.
Sadly, this was one of the only times the crowd seemed invested in the contest at all. Much of game was observed in relative silence, so much so that it is unclear which was quieter in the second half: the crowd or the Colgate offense.
After such a crucial win, which guaranteed a winning season and kept the Hoyas in the hunt for their first Patriot League title, why is there such hesitance to show pride in our football team? We have no reservations, for example, about showing our fanatical support for the basketball team at the Verizon Center. Nor do we have a shortage of die-hard NFL and college football fans. What is it about Georgetown football that makes it so unappealing and foreign to the casual Hoya sports fan?
Regardless, the team will be more than happy to come away with the win, even if the twelfth man may have let them down. They are used to having their home fans drowned out by more vocal away support. Even when we manage to fill the meager 2,500 seats with Hoyas, like this past Saturday, our Lilliputian stadium limits the potential for a dynamic crowd atmosphere.
But Multi-Sport Field, the smallest stadium in Division I football, is only part of the problem for Georgetown football. Before, it was easy to justify avoiding football games, as the team was consistently trampled by schools we would expect to embarrass in other sports like basketball and soccer. There is an almost comical stigma attached to supporting the team or showing any authentic interest in their success. Our inability to prove our superiority over the likes of Yale, Penn, Lehigh, and Holy Cross requires Georgetown fans to hold modest expectations and accept defeat, a skill few on the Hilltop possess.
However, times have changed. The program is no longer a point of humiliation. This year, they have been winning and winning big. To put it in perspective, if Georgetown was a Football Bowl Series school, the Hoyas would be bowl eligible. They’re on the cusp of finishing their best season in the Patriot League ever. Shouldn’t that be enough to attract fans to watch one of our campus’ favorite sports?
Playing one notch below in the Football Championship Series must not be enough of a draw for most Hoyas. Our disillusionment with Georgetown basketball as a perennial elite program has skewed our view of more moderate success, like a Patriot League title challenge. Spoiled by the Final Fours and national title on our resume, we have a very idealized view of Georgetown sports. If our basketball team loses in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, we are all shocked and devastated. But let’s say the Hoyas do the unthinkable and win the Patriot League this year. The Georgetown community might smile, but we’ll see if it actually puts butts in Multi-Sport Field’s remarkably uncomfortable seats.
The simple reality is that even though no current students have witnessed a basketball tournament win in their time at Georgetown, we still relish the opportunity to prove ourselves on a national stage against the best competition. What matters is not our own connection to the team, but how we are perceived by those who watch and compete against us.
While the FCS is filled with talented football players, it will never present our program and its fans with the opportunity to demonstrate school pride on a regional scale, let alone a national one. Consequently, there is little motivation for students to invest themselves in Hoya football when they can just watch the FBS and then go crazy during basketball season.
Even in these relatively dark times for our basketball program, our own football team remains an enigma, irrelevant to most of the campus. Two years ago, Georgetown football finished its season winless. Now it sits with a chance to rewrite its legacy, just three wins away from a conference title. One can only hope that the campus will take notice before this nail-biting and unprecedented season comes to a close.