EMU sports teams deserve better

Earlier this week, I went to get my haircut and grab a bite to eat when I got into another discussion about why we shouldn’t have a football team here at Eastern Michigan University.
More about how our athletic teams are no good followed this discussion, and I began to wonder why there was such disrespect for our student athletes.

It’s almost like we have an expectation of the worst from our athletic programs. And then, when the school class does something to improve our athletic programs, we get such criticism and opposition from many on campus.

That is just not fair.

If you were or are an athlete, you understand the constant work it takes to make something better. But this is not just something athletes understand. If you play chess, if you’re a dancer, if you’re member of the marching band, you understand practice makes perfect.

You also understand it takes time for you to fully master your skills. So why is it we can’t seem to encourage and support our teams at EMU? It does no one any good if you tell them they suck; it does no one good if you tell them they should just throw up their hands and give up. I can almost bet not one person on campus would like to hear that from anyone.

But, too often we say these things about our student athletes.

Over the last few weeks, I have heard very disturbing things about our football and other athletic programs. One person suggested our team played with no heart and would probably be better if we brought back the former head coach of the football team.

Charges I think are inaccurate and plain ugly.

We have not given Coach English the time he needs to build the kind of team that will turn our program into a winning one. People seem to forget our athletic programs have brought home many championships in the past three or four years. It is very easy to overlook the improvements we’ve seen in all of our programs.

For example, the men’s basketball team last year was 8-24 on the season. What people did not know is we finished third in the MAC West last year. It likely would have been better if Carlos Medlock hadn’t broken his foot last year, which put him out of action for the entire season. Now he’s back and is 100 percent.

What about the new athletes coming in, such as men’s basketball freshman guard Jake Fosdick, who made 65 triples for his high school in his last season? Are we going to tell him he sucks without giving him the opportunity to prove himself?

Then we hear all of these complaints about the new multipurpose indoor practice facility to be built over the next few months. These complaints have ranged from, “This a waste of time and money,” to, “It is not going to make the team better,” and a variety of other comments.

What people don’t know is Eastern is the only FBS Division I program in the state without an indoor practice facility. This leaves us with a big disadvantage when it comes to competitiveness on the football field and recruitment.

It’s not like all of the money has been given to the athletic department. EMU secured millions of dollars in state aid to renovate our campus’ largest classroom building. Every day we walk by the library we can see a new section being built to our science complex, projects well over the three million being used to build the indoor practice facility. I think our school’s priorities are right.

When I talk to students at other schools such as Central and Western, they are proud of their teams. They have pride in their programs even if they have a bad season. Now, it is easy to support someone who is winning, but it’s a test of character to support someone who has had a hard time. Last year, Michigan went 3-9 on the season and this year they’ve done a little bit better despite having a hard time in conference play. Their fans still stand by their team, through the good times and bad.

We should take a lesson from them. Here, we should stand by our teams and give them the support they deserve.

I am proud to be an Eagle. I am not ashamed to tell people I support EMU.

I support our coaches taking all the time they need to improve our athletic programs. If changes have to be made, then they will happen. But I am not one to write off our athletes.

Would we like someone to just write us off?

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