The Root of Our Fair-Weather Hockey Fans

Let’s face the facts. Boston College is not a football school, nor is it a basketball school. BC is one hundred percent a hockey school.

Jerry York has built a dynasty here with his historic win count (18 wins shy of 1,000), his impressive collection of national championships, and his ability to recruit, develop and produce NHL-caliber players.

The Eagles are currently ranked second in the Hockey East and ninth in the USCHO Pairwise rankings; they possess a 19-10-3 record; and with one more win, the Eagles will have their sixth consecutive season with 20+ wins.

So, why does it seem like no one cares about the men’s hockey team anymore?

Games are barely filling up at Conte, and when they do bring fans out, the echoes of drunken chatter are heard rather than the cheers that should be flooding the stadium. It seems like Boston College students no longer care about hockey. Some are looking at things we can do to fix this problem, but before we make any propositions, we should look at the root of the problem and ask why this is the case.

Shannon West / Gavel Media

Shannon West / Gavel Media

The men played in the Beanpot consolation game this past Monday and avenged a previous loss to a much-improved Harvard team. The 3-2 OT win was one that the Eagles fought hard for, but there were more players on the bench than BC fans in the stands. Within hours of the team's first round loss, the Boston College class Facebook groups were filled with posts saying, “Selling Beanpot tickets, cheap.” It seemed as though the entire student body was attempting to sell their second round tickets.

Obviously, this was an inconvenient game for most. It involved a three-week delay, a 4pm game time, and the impending doom of midterm week. But, if this were the championship game, the Garden would have been overflowing with Superfans donning their maroon and gold, regardless of circumstance.

Boston College students are arguably some of the most die-hard college hockey fans—or so I thought when I arrived on campus back in August. Now, it is time to ask the question: are BC students fair-weather hockey fans?

Sure, compared to last year, the Eagles are immensely underperforming; but, keep in mind that Johnny Hockey is technically no longer an Eagle. Losing a two-time Hockey East player of the year and a Hobey Baker Award winner is going to affect a team.

The core of the fan problem lies in the culture here at BC. Let’s compare our fan section to other schools, shall we? I am well aware of the size discrepancy between the two schools, but take the University of Florida for example. Their historically dominant football team has been underperforming in recent years, but somehow The Swamp still becomes a completely filled sea of orange and blue on game days. The University of Maryland is another example of a school with not the best teams, but unbelievably rowdy fan sections; you can't tell me it wouldn't be fun to participate in a flash mob between periods!

Why do these students still go when their teams are not living up to expectations?

These schools have long had a sports centered culture, but Boston College just does not have said “sports culture.” It has all the pieces of the puzzle to be a sports school---the sports, the conference and the identity of the Superfan---but something just doesn’t fit.

It could be the size of our school; a student body of about 9,000 undergraduates is one heck of a lot smaller than 32,000. But, it's not the size of the dog in the fight; it's the size of the fight in the dog. If students show up and put forth the effort, our fan section could definitely compete with those at larger schools. So, why don't we?

Some would say that there is an arrogance among our student body. Others think that there is a lack of ability to go to these games and get completely caught up in the competition, let go of inhibitions and make complete fools of ourselves cheering the Eagles to victory. Or maybe, you could say that our students are just so academically driven that there is no time for sporting events.

Another argument could be made for our student body’s (or perhaps our generation’s) obsession with the party culture. People are scared that they are going to miss out on the next great banger, so they don’t want to be trapped in Conte until 10/10:30 at night, because they will be late to a party—I have actually witnessed this one.

Quite possibly, it could just be the way that some of us were brought up. I, for one, was raised to be a sports fanatic, the type of person you see jumping out of her seat by reflex when her team scores, or the idiot who decides to wear her blue and white Tampa Bay Lightning gear to TD Garden when her team is in town to play the Bruins. I would proudly do the same for my school. I would strut around BU's Agganis Arena with my head held high, confidently displaying the "Boston College" logo across my chest. Not everyone was raised that way, though, and that is understandable.

Whatever the reason, facts are facts, and the fact is that our hockey fans have been slacking recently. It's time to come together as a university and be proud of our sports teams, even when they aren't performing extraordinarily well.

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Katie McGirney