Opinion: Should We Have an Athletic Banquet?

Editor’s Note: These opinion articles represent the viewpoint of the author, and are posted here to stimulate discussion on this campus. The Southwesterner believes that meaningful, honest, open discussion is an important part of an academic setting, and is Christian by nature. We will continue to promote the concept of open and free dialog between students and the university.

by Ephraim Viadex

Ephraim Viadex

My fellow athletes, does anything feel different about this year? More specifically, to athletes who have returned from last year, aren’t we supposed to be getting ready for something right now? An athletic banquet maybe? Well, if you haven’t noticed, there won’t be one this year, but shouldn’t we be having one?

The highest possible achievement for any athlete is winning a championship. A championship signified one as, “the ultimate winner,” but unfortunately, not everyone can be “the ultimate winner.” So what we’re left with are individual awards, maybe from a conference or an outside committee, but even still not everyone is good enough to win an individual award, and in some cases, athletes get snubbed from awards they maybe should have received. But just because your team didn’t win a championship, or you didn’t win MVP, does that mean your hard work, dedication, and sacrifice to your team was for nothing? This is part of the reason why athletic banquets are so important. Athletic banquets are the team’s final commemoration. This event brings together coaches, players, family, and friends to honor the players of the season, and it’s a great way to cap off a season, championship or not. For this reason, I strongly believe Southwestern should continue having an athletic banquet.

In years past, our athletic banquet was never anything extravagant, but it was still special. Teams would get together one last time, everyone dressed up decently, and dinner served, some years the food was better than others, but overall, it was a good time. Coaches would hand out awards for their respective teams, and any team accomplishment was recognized. If I’m being quite honest, in my years here, most years were down years for the athletic teams, and although our teams were losing, the banquet was always nice, as it allowed us to fellowship before school was let out. Sometimes it would be the last time some of us would spend time together, as players transfer, coaches come and go, and so forth. When teams would have notable seasons, like in 2022, the basketball team achieved its first USCAA National Tournament berth in our history, or when women’s soccer made the national championship just last year, the athletic banquet allowed all of us to recognize these achievements.

This year though, things are different. Instead of an athletic banquet, the school has opted to hold senior nights, which is a common practice for almost all athletic programs, to honor senior athletes in their final game at home. This is a wonderful practice, as seniors deserve that recognition on their home court or home field, but I feel like that should have always been a given; we were just late to the party. I feel like an athletic banquet compliments a senior night, as seniors get honored in their final games in front of fans, parents, and viewers online, but the rest of the student-athlete body gets opportunities to be honored at athletic banquets.

When talking to a few athletes, many were surprised that there was not going to be a banquet this year. With the success of the men’s and women’s soccer teams this year, it felt like an athletic banquet was due, as they made history. Now, opponents of a banquet may say holding one is expensive, the costs of securing a venue, catering, and purchasing physical awards, but let’s be honest; everything is expensive, but there are ways to work around that and be resourceful.

Fundraisers can be held beforehand, and reaching out to former athletes to be donors can be helpful. Our chef usually takes care of the catering, which eases costs, and if you want to get creative, catering can be done potluck style, with athletes and coaches bringing in their dishes which will ease expenses. So truthfully, there is no reason to not have an athletic banquet. Athletics here at SWAU is quite different from athletics at any other major university.

We don’t have the luxuries that other big athletic programs have, so athletes have to seriously grind through their seasons, through the entire school year. It’s difficult managing school, work, and the demands of your sport on your own. An athletic banquet is a nice show of appreciation for the hardships we had to endure for the sake of our respective sport.

Winning season or not, athletes here at SWAU deserve a lot of credit, for their sacrifice, their hard work, it means something to represent

your school competitively, and it’s only right that our sacrifice is honored, and appreciated. Some of the underappreciated sports such as gymnastics, women’s basketball, and in years past, cross country, that don’t draw the same consistent fan appeal as other sports here, are more deserving of an athletic banquet to be honest. Their hard work and dedication to their sport also merit some type of honor or appreciation. On top of that appreciation, the fellowship that takes place at a banquet creates memories that last a lifetime.

All in all, bring back the athletic banquet. None of us athletes will remember box scores 10 or even 20 years from now, but we’ll always remember the time we had at the athletic banquet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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