Support your student athletes

by | Feb 2, 2023 | Sports

NAIT has some talented student athletes across multiple different sports. Of the three team sports still in progress— volleyball, basketball and hockey—all NAIT’s men’s and women’s teams sit in a playoff spot, and four of the six have winning records. NAIT students can get into any NAIT home game free with their student ID. But NAIT also participates in two tournament-based sports, badminton and curling, and these students are just as talented. 

In the most recent badminton tournament hosted by NAIT, one NAIT player had to play in seven consecutive matches. First, they finished third in the women’s doubles tournament. Then they finished seventh in mixed doubles. In the fifth of their seven straight games, her unseeded duo had to play the second seed of the mixed doubles, who had the opportunity to rest between matches. They might have lost that match, but two consecutive 21-19 set losses were very close.

It’s talent like this that made the turnout of fans very underwhelming. For most team sports, NAIT usually manages almost to fill out the gym when their teams play on Friday and Saturday, but for this tournament on Sunday, I could count the number of fans in attendance on one hand. Now part of it is the timing of the event. The tournament begins early Sunday morning and goes till late into the evening. That is a lot of time for a fan to commit to this event and is inconvenient for most people. But nothing stops a fan from coming for part of the event instead of the whole thing. 

Another significant issue was the lack of ways to entice the fans by NAIT. The event was split among four courts, each having a game going on simultaneously. Until the finals, the two referees in attendance just supervised the event as the players scored the games. This made it very hard to keep track of the games unless you were also keeping score yourself–something that would be very challenging to do if you are watching all four games and trying to keep track of them all. 

Another glaring issue was the lack of food options. The concession stand was closed, meaning you had to leave the event and come back if you wanted food. The event took almost 10 hours, so it was very likely you’d need something to eat. I understand the difficulty of keeping the concession open without fans. Still, the players also had to be there for the entire event as most participated in all the qualified events. The players might want a snack at some point, and instead of sending someone else to get food for them, they could purchase it from the concession stand.

I chatted with Alan Chow, the head coach of the Badminton team, and it turns out that this is a normal issue with the tournaments– they are quiet except for provincials and nationals. He also mentioned that Jordan Richey, NAIT’s head of Athletics was working on bringing awareness to all NAIT sporting events. 

Again, NAIT can’t take the whole blame for the lack of fans, but there are things it could have done better. And fans… go out and support your student athletes. It’s completely free with your student ID.

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