Changing sports climate


Photo taken by Billy D

It is news to no one that Manatee is a sports school. With multiple state championship wins under our belt and a football stadium that is packed every game, that much is clear, but it used to be more significant. Twenty years ago, the stands were packed for every game, not just football. Students came out to basketball, baseball and volleyball like each game was the last. Today is still a sports school, but the spirit is not what it used to be.

But that is changing.

This year the football team had an unfortunate run, making the season a letdown for fans and students alike. However, that is turning into a positive for other sports like basketball, since both boys and girls teams have winning records and people want to go out to watch them play. These sports have a student section again when there has not been one in the last four years.

It is becoming a morale booster for winter and spring sports, which never get as many fans after football is over since they know that people will come out and watch, especially if they are promised a show.

And while the unfortunate football season is one catalyst for this change in spirit, there are multiple other factors as well. People are allowed to watch sports after a year of them not happening. The new principal shows more support for athletics, going out to games and sending out schedules to teachers and students with the help of the new athletic director.

This year’s student council is also becoming more involved with winter and spring sports, planning themed days that boost incentives for students to come out and support their school. They saw the fruits of this tactic when they planned a white-out at the boys basketball game against HA Prep, which had a strong turnout for a regular season game.

“More people enjoy basketball, and since we’ve got some kids who can dunk, everyone wants to come watch,” said student body president senior Charlie Gonzales.

And there is nothing better than this for the players, who have gone out and done their best for empty stands for years and now have something to fight for. Playing with a crowd changes the whole atmosphere of a game, and there are some players just getting to experience that for the first time.

“You see that chemistry with the crowd as well. Like when I told Cole and all them to come to the games and stuff like that we fed off of their energy and that translated on to the court… They’re just as important as the people playing on the court for us,” said team captain, senior Daniel White.

New Year, New Coach– Head basketball coach Mike Alderson encourages his players on the court. Since the hiring of Alderson, players have reported that their vitality and communication are better. “Especially since they hired Coach Mike I believe the energy that we’re bringing on the court but also off of it is better like we’re building a brotherhood and you can see the chemistry that we’ve built off the court on it,” said White.

With the boys being 2-2 and the girls being 7-1, the hype surrounding their games is even more real. Just last week, the girls won their game against Sarasota in overtime, and the whole crowd was on their feet in anticipation. After the final buzzer, the crowd started chanting MVP for senior Ty Barclay, who scored the tying shot and was a force for her team to follow the whole game.

“I wasn’t really focused on the crowd, just how I performed. I knew that I needed to be a leader for my teammates to get us the victory,” said Barclay.

That is why it is important to show out to games; athletes play better when something is on the line. And games like that make fans want to come out and watch. Gonzales wants to keep this hype going into spring as well, to get students out to the baseball, softball and lacrosse games, especially since baseball is rumored to have a winning season ahead of them.

“I will personally use this information to post more on my story, and yes, I will use it to try to go to more sporting events like lacrosse, I want to have a lot of people at those games, and baseball, we’re going to try to do it for as many sports as we can,” said Gonzales.

White especially wants more hype for games, hoping that basketball turnouts will be so big that people will have to stand up around the court one day. He feels that basketball is going to build more hype for the school, especially after this year’s football season.

“All of us owe this school a lot and like we get that football has a big culture in the school, but we want to create a culture for basketball as well because we’re not just playing for us we’re playing for the school and everyone else in it,” said White.

Hopefully this year will trigger something greater for Cane Pride, after fans come out and see the effect that it has on students, players and the school as a whole.