(Rock Hill, S.C.) — Winthrop University has had a hard time getting students to attend home basketball games and every year the school’s homecoming, celebrated on the lawn of the Coliseum, is scheduled to coincide with basketball in an effort to get people to come to the games.
The basketball double-header Nov. 17, which took place during the tailgate, featured the women’s game against Newberry College at 11:30 a.m. and the men’s game versus East Tennessee State University at 2:30 p.m.
The tailgate is filled with food, drinks, music and camaraderie, which is a big draw for students, family and alumni. But does it really encourage more people to attend the games?
For many students the answer is no.
“I’m more focused on wanting to enjoy myself at the tailgate than sitting in the Coliseum and sit down and watch basketball,” said Alexis Blaine, a junior biology major.
Blaine said she has never attended a homecoming game during her college career.
While the tailgate is going on, the men’s and women’s basketball teams are warming up and preparing for their games.
However, some Winthrop players find themselves thinking about what is going on outside at the tailgate while they’re preparing for the game.
“I never really been to one,” said Chuck Fauldin, a sophomore guard on the men’s team, referring to the homecoming tailgate. “It’s something that everyone always talks about, so it’s something that I want to do.”
Additionally, a number of players on the women’s team left the Coliseum to attend the tailgate after their game, rather than stay and watch the men’s game.
Kem Nwabudu, a freshman forward on the women’s team, said she attended the tailgate after her game.
“I had a great time looking at the different fraternities and sororities, watching the men’s game on television and eating barbecue,” said Nwabudu. “It’s homecoming tradition and you feel left out if you don’t get to attend.”
The perceived lack of enthusiasm about the games among students didn’t stop those associated with the team from trying to recruit support.
For example, men’s head coach Pat Kelsey was seen at the tailgate blowing a whistle, waving to students and shouting, “come to the game!”
“(Kelsey) goes on campus and spreads the word (to) hype up the students and…try to get them to come to the game,” said Fauldin.
However, his efforts may have gone unnoticed.
“I haven’t seen Coach Kelsey all week,” said Blaine.
For now, many students, perhaps even some of the players, appear more concerned about tailgating than actually going to the basketball games that homecoming is intended to promote.