Gameday comes to Simpson


by David Morain

I am walking amidst a red, black and gold sea of 50,000 people. Smoke wells up over the crowds carrying the smells of a couple hundred barbecues. It’s loud, it’s hot and you can’t take two steps without bumping shoulders or tripping over someone. Right about the time you hear “Seneca sucks” for the eight millionth time, it hits you: this is exactly what gameday should be like.

In the three seasons of Simpson football I have witnessed, a couple of things have become abundantly clear: you can’t always run the ball on third and long and Storm fans wouldn’t know enthusiasm if it hit them in the knee with a sack of doorknobs. Our student body rarely fills the stands, and those who do attend games rarely bring the type of enthusiasm routinely found on college campuses.

I know our school is much smaller than an Iowa or an Iowa State and you can’t expect a Division I atmosphere with Division III enrollment. Low numbers don’t necessarily mean low enthusiasm. Look at Duke. Their enrollment tops out around 6,300 undergraduates, much smaller than most Division I schools, but their basketball fans are among the best in the nation. Walking the streets of Iowa City last weekend was a double-edged sword. It was fun to be there and join the fray, but it was depressing knowing that Simpson doesn’t have anything resembling that type of vibrant atmosphere.

This isn’t to say that we couldn’t have that kind of gameday ambiance. All it takes is thoughtful planning and cooperation between students and faculty.

First, Simpson allows outdoor parties about as often as the ticket lady issues only a warning. This is truly tragic because we have the perfect place for a tailgate – the parking lot directly south of the Blank Performing Arts Center. The close proximity to the stadium and central location between most of the campus living quarters makes this parking lot the ideal spot to plant a few lawn chairs, fire up the grill and crank up the stereo.

Secondly, we are going to have to increase school spirit by roughly 279 percent, give or take a cheer. We need crazy fans, rowdy fans and fans that are willing to paint “Niemann For President” on their chests. I want to look into the stands and be reminded of the battle sequence from “Braveheart” (minus the swords and kilts, of course). The basketball teams have Cowles Crazies in the winter and the men’s soccer team has a fledgling faction of passionate enthusiasts in their hooligans.

So why can’t we go nuts for the football team?

Finally, the best way to build school spirit is on our foundation of personal ties to the team. Unlike places like Iowa and Iowa State, we have the advantage of knowing the football players personally. Maybe one sits beside you in biology class, maybe you went to high school with one or maybe one lives with one of your good friends on campus. It doesn’t really matter how you know the players as long as you go and support them on Saturdays.

Our college was home to some of the best Division III football in the country during the mid-90s. We have the coaching and the personnel to get back there very soon, but will we even care? What is our team playing for if not for the students of Simpson? These guys were busting their chops at two-a-days before we even moved in and unpacked our suitcases. The least we can do is show some appreciation. This is a call to arms.

This Saturday we host the Beavers of Buena Vista at 1 p.m. Get up early, get to the parking lot, bring a lawn chair, a couple of bratwursts and something cold to drink. This is the year that “gameday” arrives at Simpson College.