Today was the day Philadelphia held a parade for the Villanova Men’s Basketball team in honor of its 2016 NCAA championship. I’ve read estimates that approximately 60,000 people attended the parade.
Beating North Carolina in what many consider to be the greatest championship game ever played was an amazing accomplishment and the parade was a memorable way to honor the team. It’s an easy team to like and to be happy for their success, since they seem to be true student-athletes who respect each other and the game. And I’ve said many times how fortunate we are at Nova to have Jay Wright as our coach.
My heartiest congratulations to the team for all they achieved this year.
Today was also the day that the Villanova Men’s and Women’s tennis teams played Hampton University, and the contrast could not have been more striking, there were no more than 20 fans in attendance.
Now I know that perhaps today was not the best day to judge what kind of support the tennis team typically gets, since Villanova had canceled classes and as a result many, many students were planning to go down to the parade.
But it did get me thinking, and perhaps reminiscing.
There are many similarities between the tennis players and the basketball players.
The tennis players are just as committed to their sport as the basketball players are; the tennis players put in hours and hours of practice, just like the basketball players; the tennis players miss the occasional class to go to an away match, just like the basketball players; the tennis players love their sport, just like the basketball players.
But there are also some differences.
The tennis players do not receive any athletic scholarship money, the basketball players do. The tennis players sometimes play in cold, windy, raw weather conditions, the basketball players do not. The tennis players get 20 people to show up for their match, the basketball team sells out all 6,500 seats for every one of its on-campus games.
I also realize there is a significant financial difference between the two sports, with the basketball team most likely generating a positive cash flow, while the tennis team most certainly does not.
But that should not be what college sports are about, nor should that be the reason why one team gets all the support and other teams do not.
I’m sure the athletes don’t consider the number of fans that show up for their game as one of the reasons why they play a sport; it’s because they love the sport, the challenge of getting better, the competition, the camaraderie.
I was a swimmer in college, and if we got 20 fans to come to a meet, we would have guessed it was some sort of punishment handed down to those 20 fans by the Dean of Students. But the lack of fans did nothing to diminish my love for the sport and my love for being part of the team.
I’m sure the Villanova tennis players feel the same way, but I’m sure they would be thrilled if a few more fans showed up at their next match.
Let’s just not go as far as the Big 12 did…
P.S. I also noticed that the Villanova Athletics web site had not yet posted the results of today’s match, nor the results from the Nova-St. Joe’s tennis match, which took place on Tuesday! I’m guessing that the results of the men’s basketball championship this past Monday night was posted within minutes of the outcome.
If you’re curious, the Nova men’s and women’s tennis teams both won today; I found the results on the Hampton University web site…
So congratulations for a job well done.