Over the last few weeks, a lot of rumor, fear and misinformation have been circling about the possible loss of Lumberjack football next year. As a 40 year old alumnus and former football player, I felt it is important to share my perspective on what it meant to be a student athlete, and more importantly, a student athlete at Humboldt. I speak from my perspective, however I would imagine many other guys feel the same way. I think this is important for three main reasons.
First, to let the administration know how much that Redwood surrounded stadium and campus means to all of the alumni. Secondly, to offer perspective to the student body and community who may not be football fans. Finally and most importantly, to publicly ask for answers from the administration that is making this decision.
All alumni have different levels of involvement with the program. My personal involvement is of course as a fan, but also as a booster. I have always tried to support the program when I can and always will. I proudly share my alma mater in my living room with my 6 year old son just about every Saturday in the fall. So at 40 years of age, with kids, wife, a demanding career, why such a die-hard connection? The answer is simple; pride and connection. I am proud of where I went to school, I am proud to have worn Humboldt State on my chest for 21 Saturdays, I am proud of the work I put in with Drew to prepare myself, I am proud to share my university with my children. Most importantly, I am connected. I am connected to men who did the same thing as I. I am connected to these men for life. I am connected to men from Compton, Santa Rosa, San Diego, Hawthorne, Eureka, and Reno. I am connected to men from a myriad of backgrounds that I would have never known had it not been for football. I now realize this is what matters. Yes, winning games is important and feels great. As you get older, what will become more important are the relationships you have built. One thing is certain, as a student athlete you will build relationships with people from backgrounds you would otherwise never be connected to. As a professional in a highly-competitive field that has made a great impact on my life for the better, I have been outside of my comfort-zone. I am able to appreciate other world perspectives. I have shared in different peoples life experiences. I don’t want that valuable opportunity erased from campus.
So with such positive experiences why is there talk of cutting football? We are being told budget. Well, according to the research study commissioned by the school, cutting football would not relieve the budget issues. Why are athletics not budgeted out of the general fund? We are being told enrollment is down. Why are there 1,500 applications not being looked at? By no means do I claim to be a CSU budget expert, none of us are. So why isn’t the administration having a public forum to discuss the possible loss of an obviously beloved part of the community? Are they looking at better ways to budget? Are we actively seeking out corporate sponsorships? Can athletics do a better job of reaching out to alumni? Why is attendance at football games being underreported? These are all great questions. Why are there no answers? I don’t have the answers, unfortunately those that do remain silent or give noncommittal statements. I would like something from the AD and President as to what the plan is. Is the plan to cut the program and they’re too cowardly to admit it now? Are they looking at ways to budget correctly? I don’t know, we don’t know, I am frightened they may not know.
I am not a professional writer, I am not a seasoned College administrator, I am a former mediocre college athlete who loves his Green and Gold brothers, and loves his University. My goal in writing this is to try and let those understand the importance my college experience has played in my live. Learning how to compete, how to work, coping with failure, instilling empathy for different life experiences. All of these things have made me a better person. College is about academics but it is also about learning to be a better person. I ask you to evaluate the importance of football not on your love for the game but on your appreciation for the importance of connection. I ask that all my brothers, the community, boosters, students, stand up and speak and fight any attempt to erase this program. I ask the administration to communicate with us. Involve us in the process, let us help, we want to fight with you not against you.
Class of 2000