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Empty seats a bad trend at high school events
Where are the fans? Because theyre not showing up to high school sporting events around Federal Way.
I guess theres too much to do around the city, like watching reruns of American Chopper or planning out all those home improvements that never seem to get done. I have been the sports editor at the Mirror for over a year now and am still waiting to see a full stadium or gym. Im actually waiting to see an even half-full facility.
Why is that?
Is it because the Mirror sports section is doing such a good job covering the four Federal Way high schools? Im pretty sure thats not the case. Could it be that students, as well as adults, just have better things to do?
Ill tell you what I think, as far as the adults are concerned Federal Way has no sense of community. There are four high schools scattered around a spread-out city with a population of over 80,000 and people dont associate Federal Way with a high school like they do in other places around the area. Could it be because there arent a ton of adults who graduated from the citys schools currently living here? I dont know. Other South Puget Sound League schools like Puyallup, Bethel, Tahoma and Enumclaw have a lot more graduates who stay and live in the communities they grew up in. That makes it easier for them to spend a Friday night watching their alma mater play a football or basketball game. They have a little pride in their school and want to see them do well.
I graduated from Auburn High School in 1991 and remember how important high school sports, especially basketball, were to people around town. When I was in elementary and junior high school, it was a big deal to make the trek downtown with my dad to watch an Auburn boys basketball game. I knew the names of all the players and could still rattle off the entire roster of the 1985 Trojan team.
I havent seen that kind of passion in Federal Way. Not even close. Sure there are rabid fans around, but not many. The stands at most games include just parents and boyfriends and girlfriends.
Another big reason why the Federal Way schools could be suffering in attendance numbers is because a bulk of the teams arent competing for championships. I assume this is the main factor why students stay away.
Overall, the four Federal Way high schools have struggled in the last couple years, especially in the two highest-drawing sports of football and basketball. No basketball teams qualified for their respective state tournaments last year and only Decatur has played a playoff football game since 2003.
The Federal Way boys basketball team is the only lock to qualify for the SPSL Tournament this season and the Eagle boys might have the most loyal student following of any city team.
Federal Way seniors Tyler Pac and Chris McColgan lead a contingent of students who attend every Eagle varsity game, home or away. They are decked out in blue wigs, painted faces and blue T-shirts that read FW Crew on the front and have a yield sign on the back with Caution this fan stands a lot.
But thats not the norm.
Ill give an example, at kickoff time in a season-ending football matchup between Beamer and Jefferson Oct. 28, I counted just over 20 people on the visitors side of Federal Way Memorial Stadium. Lets just say, finding a parking spot wasnt too hard that night.
Girls basketball games are even worse. You can hear every shoe squeak, instructions from the coach and can eavesdrop on most conversations around the gym. That was even the case when the Federal Way girls took the floor at the 17,000-seat KeyArena last week at the King Classic tournament.
Where are the fans? I want to know.
Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, firstname.lastname@example.org