EKU crowd should be the rule, not exception

Were you there?

Were you there when Western and Eastern resumed the state’s longest rivalry last weekend, and throngs of spectators filled Smith Stadium to the brim for the first time since 1996?

Were you there when Western alumni and enthusiasts brought faded sweaters and red towels out of moth balls? Were you there when they screamed? When they shouted? When they cheered?

If you were there, you witnessed more than 18,000 people cram into the one-sided wonder and occupy upper-level seats that hadn’t seen human beings in years.

But even this scene was an after party of sorts to the pregame tailgating bonanza that lined Big Red Way and the south end of campus.

In short, football on the Hill has life again. The publicity generated by Western’s run to the I-AA national title last December coupled with the return of the Eastern matchup sent the athletics department into a frenzy to take advantage.

The advertising campaign for the Eastern game included print advertisements, television and radio spots, posters and countless other publicity to ensure an exciting Saturday night. So much so that if for some reason you didn’t know about the Eastern game, your cousin or best friend surely did.

But while we applaud the effort on the part of Western to pump up this game, we don’t want this to be an isolated incident.

We realize that simply by the nature of the state, Western will largely always be a basketball school. But that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to promote the football program with the vigor we saw for the Eastern game.

Trust in the football team to do its job and continue to show the people what else there is for them to do on a Saturday at Smith Stadium. It’s not just about 60 minutes of action; it’s about camaraderie, fun, burgers, hot dogs and – dare we say – “adult beverages” too.

Other than the Homecoming game, being a I-AA program, albeit a top tier one, Western will always have to work overtime to fill seats. But now is the time to rejuvenate some of the luster that has worn away over time.

We’re not saying you have an easy job. In fact, a lot of the responsibility falls on the students to maintain their enthusiasm throughout the year. But the promotion of home games should at least be equal over the remainder of the regular season schedule.

A national championship was the big thing to get it started, but it’s the little things that will bring more days like last Saturday. And like football or any other sport, it should be a team effort.

This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Herald’s 10-member board of student editors.