The men's basketball team celebrating their OUA championship win with Ryerson president Mohamed Lachemi.

Photo: Chris Blanchette

Keep the fan train rolling

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By Devin Jones

For the entirety of this year I’ve been the sports editor at The Eyeopener and I’m honestly not even the biggest fan of sports. Don’t get me wrong, I understand and appreciate the work that goes into a championship-winning team, but there are other people in the office far more knowledgeable about when and how to execute a flawless half-court press. In fact, I had to check with one of our photo editors, Chris Blanchette, to make sure I had the correct understanding of what exactly a half-court press is.

It sounds contrite and overwrought but my biggest interest in sports comes from the moments when the whistle blows, the game stops and you get to see the players as more than the faceless numbers on the backs of jerseys covered in simple game recaps.

As a contributor last year I followed both basketball programs extensively, even taking a trip to Quebec to cover the women’s basketball CIS championships for the paper. Imagine the pleasure I’ve had this year of watching both teams build upon their success of last season, and absolutely demolish all expectation set for them. Just typing the words “both the men and women’s teams have won OUA banners and gold medals,” puts a smile across my stupid bearded face.

I couldn’t care less about the the accolades, because the accomplishments that the Ryerson basketball programs have achieved this year go beyond trophies, stats and scoreboards. This year is the first time during my career at Ryerson that I’ve felt invested in a community of peers, and oh my what a community.

The cliché of Ryerson being a commuter university that doesn’t give a shit about school spirit not only went out the window this year, it broke the entire fucking campus. From student-organized events, to the sold out Coca Cola court, athletics and the basketball teams this year have caused a group of people to turn away from bullshit residence parties and to care about a common cause. It made me, a normally selfish and insular person care about a common cause. And for a journalist normally removed from the action, it’s been nice to slip away from my own trumped-up priorities and cheer alongside the hundreds, if not thousands, of dedicated students. For a few hours at a time, those fans worry about nothing else besides cheering on some of the best damn sports Ryerson has ever seen.

So please, let’s not make the fandom a flash in the pan, let’s continue to make the Coca Cola court one of the most intimidating places to play — and not because of the players, but because of you, the fans, who have stripped away the stats and made it about the personalities on the court. Aaron Best, Adika Peter-McNeilly, Jean-Victor Mukama — not just conventional “athlete” stereotypes, but the root of something bigger.

The next time you find yourself sitting in the crowd at a Ryerson basketball game, take a second and look around. Look beside you to the non-Ryerson friend you dragged out to a game, and look at the amazement on their face when they realize that yeah, Ryerson is cool. And even more than that, watch them immerse themselves in a community of support and adoration for teams that were years earlier an afterthought.

The responsibility is on us to make this something special, to raise the profile of Ryerson to more than just a game, because this season the fans have made Ryerson basketball a fucking event. And that, is dope.

As to that whole birthing of Eggy thing? Wow.

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