ASL’s facilities offer students chances to attend the school’s various sporting events. But are the venues effective at establishing a student-led fan turnout?
Canons Park offers a premier stage for both athletes to perform and the student body to come and cheer on their fellow classmates. Despite these advantages, its distance from school remains an inconvenient and deterring factor for many students attempting to attend games.
The tennis teams hold their matches at Finchley Manor – an hour tube ride from school. Field hockey plays its games at the University College School in Hampstead – a 30-minute tube ride from school. While yes, in London’s crowded infrastructure, it is hard to find facilities to accommodate so many teams, it’s hard to deny that these facilities make it simple for students to support these teams.
The swim team doesn’t even have a home-pool as of now, but will be given a state-of-the-art pool, being built as part of the New Frontiers construction. However, until then, when swim meets will be held in London, they are usually held at Cobham. With all of these so far from campus, is it fair to say that the term “home game” is a strech?
I would say so. The teams at the school are sometimes unable to get a home crowd and thus, leaving the squads without a true home-field advantage.
Peter Ryan (’15), a veteran of the varsity rugby and boys lacrosse teams, mentions that both teams don’t have consistent support. “Occasionally some friends will come out and watch, but for the most part there is no advantage to playing at Canons,” he said.
This sentiment is echoed by varsity field hockey player Annie Timbers (’16), who feels that the team doesn’t get a good fan turnout at their games. “[The fans] are pretty much all parents,” she said. “We probably have like seven or eight parents [at games], and occasionally we get a few students to come, but that is really it.”
It’s hard for students to get to games for students on the weekdays and having no efficient means of transportation to get to the venues discourages student involvement. While I am not advocating for the building of facilities on the school’s campus, although this has been partially achieved with the addition of a new swimming pool, there are steps that could be taken to institute a much more student, fan-friendly atmosphere for home games. Each sport having its own “spirit day” is a start, but emphasis should be put further on packing the stands of home games with zealous supporters adorned in the school’s orange and black colors.
To do that, the facilities should be prepared not only to host athletes and produce a good, fair game, but they should also be prepared to host fans. This includes school-supported transportation to and from games along with bleachers and concession stands at all games. The school could also take action in improving school spirit and student attendance at sports games with incentives. Why not schedule more designated spirit days for sports? Or maybe award spirit points to grades that produce the most fans at sport events?
With that being said, the student body could be more involved in games and have more school spirit. Basketball games are a great example of the potential that students have when it comes to supporting their teams and the turnout at boys soccer ISSTs at Canons Park in November was promising.
But it would be great if every sports team could get the feeling of having their own herd of supporters. That falls on the students as much as it does as the school. Just look at the Eagles Ultras, a band of friends who rose to the occasion and established themselves as a fan group for some of ASL’s sports. That could be expanded or more groups like that could be created. But the students should make a better effort to support their friends and classmates.
It is time to start letting the school’s high school athletes, other than the fortunate basketball and volleyball teams who play in the on-campus Farmer Family Gym, feel appreciated for what they do, no matter where they play their home games. Countless hours go into practice for every sport that athletes participate in at school, and it is time to have being cheered on by classmates part of the rewarding experience of the sports themselves.