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Tuesday, September 29, 2020


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No football game on Family Weekend? A bad mistake

Here's a question that will probably be on students' minds as next weekend approaches: What on earth am I going to do to occupy my parents if there is no Richmond football game?

This may not affect the freshmen as much as it does us veterans who have been at the university for a couple years. The concept of not attending a football game on Family Weekend is a foreign one, and one that does not settle well with students or parents.

Ever since my freshman year, the Saturday of Family Weekend has consisted of partaking in the usual tailgate scene and then watching the football game. The event filled the afternoon and did not leave me scrambling to try to scour up an array of activities in the greater Richmond area that would sufficiently occupy my family's time. The football game was always easy, fun and allowed my friends and our families the chance to mingle and entertain themselves.

So you can imagine our dismay when we looked at the football schedule and realized there was no home game during Family Weekend. I have heard dozens of conversations centered on the no-football-game Family Weekend. Some have told me they do not know what they will do with their parents, while others have said their parents are considering not even making the trip to Richmond anymore. Now that may be extreme - not visiting your college-aged child because there is no home football game - but I can see their point.

The football game gave the weekend a purpose and made the (sometimes long) trek to Richmond exciting for students' families. It has also been one of the most widely attended home games of the season, and people stay for the whole game, not just for the first quarter or half.

The effect of the 12th man is one that frequently comes up in football chatter, so let us review how the Spiders have performed the past three years during Family Weekend games. Last year, Richmond beat the University of Maine 44-17 and it was a career game for receiver Jordan Mitchell and quarterback Eric Ward.

My sophomore year, the team played and beat the University of New Hampshire 45-38. This was the year of Tim Hightower. He scored four touchdowns during this game while his teammate Justin Rogers set a school record for kick-off return yardage. The crowd almost topped 9,000 that Saturday afternoon.

My freshman year was no different. Richmond football toppled the Virginia Military Institute 58-7 in the team's home opener with a crowd of more than 10,500 people.

Three years of straight wins, with many personal and team records set, in the presence of larger-than-normal crowds. Adrenaline probably flows at a higher rate when team members look up from the field and see the bleachers filled. They do not even need to look up. The cheering and chanting is always decibels higher than any other game of the season.

I cannot come out and say the increased number of heads in the stands directly correlates with these high-performing games, but it does leave one wondering.

Richmond football came into the season as National Champions. This is not an accolade the university's athletes receive on a regular basis. Winning the title has also increased interest in the team all around, and it is a shame families will not get to experience the Family Weekend home game following a championship season. This statement has a nice ring to it: "I am going to visit my daughter this weekend and we are going to watch her school's National Champion football team play Saturday afternoon."

Oh, wait, this statement will not be leaving the mouths of any parents or siblings. The university plans Family Weekend about two years in advance and the football team schedule is set before the season as well. I understand there are other factors that were considered when deciding not to schedule Family Weekend earlier this year - Jewish holidays, timing of Fall Break and midterms. It is still a shame the National Champions will not be able to host students and their families at a homestand that has proven to be quite an exciting game in the past.

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