What’s happening here?

By Kari Brackett

It has been a rather quiet semester, but I think something has happened recently that deserves attention. No, I am not here to cut down anyone in the athletic administration or any NIU athletic team. (Please, don’t look so shocked.)

I was one of the 14,000-plus who attended Saturday’s football game against Southwest Missouri State, and I just want to say I thought it was great to see such a large turnout. To tell ya the truth, I think the attendence figure is not a fair representation of the total number of fans at the game.

At halftime, I stood out in the tailgate area and was overwhelmed by the sight of so many people. The main seating in the stadium holds about 15,000 and most of the seats were filled. At the risk of sounding like a dweeb, I actually felt a chill go through me when the balloons were released at halftime. It finally looked like NIU had made it to the big leagues.

Now I know it was Parents’ Day, and many parents wanted to see the Huskies in action, but I have never seen or heard the type of enthusiasm from students that I saw Saturday, and I just hope it continues.

When I woke up Saturday morning and saw the rain, right away I thought, “Well, there goes that idea of a big crowd.” I’m glad to say I was wrong. There were students chanting, cheering and actually talking about their Huskies with pride.

I was sitting near the crowd that threw the fruit on the field chanting “Citrus Bowl” after an NIU touchdown. While a Citrus Bowl representative was not at the SWMS game, it didn’t matter because the students were having fun. I’m not saying I condone throwing things on the field, but I like their enthusiasm.

That is the kind of excitement this campus needs. Interest boosts the unity within students. Everyone can enjoy something together. It doesn’t matter whether you live on or off campus, or whether you are a greek or a non-greek—it is the fact that you are an NIU student attending an NIU event.

Athletes also hold a sense of pride when people support them. I know many players said they played harder knowing they had people backing them. It gave them incentive to kick the Bears’ butts.

In the past, when there were barely 7,000 attending a game, the players probably didn’t have the same desire to win. And who would blame them? Why should they care if no one else does?

Well, let’s hope someone does care. The Huskies have three more games at home, including homecoming on Oct. 29, so don’t think that supporting one game is enough. Show your support even more by wearing red or wearing something with the NIU or Huskie logo. If we want to be “big time”, then we have to do our part. We as students can’t just expect it to happen.

Also, remember there are 15 other NIU varsity sports with athletes wanting support. Last year the softball team went to the NCAA final eight, our men’s gymnastic team ranked nationally in the Top 20 and one wrestler went on to the NCAA tourney. This year the field hockey squad is 17th in the nation, and the soccer team defeated 15th-ranked Southern Illinois-Edwardsville Sunday. You just never know when you’ll see top-quality action in Huskie athletics.