Saturday, March 7, 2009

Let There Be Light

Some news (and perhaps a little future history) was made this past week, and few noticed it.

Not on Not in the Washington Post. Not even at (though it was saved for this post). The news was from The HOYA, where it was reported that lights were installed on the unnamed but no less busy Multi-Sport Field.

Staff writer Kevin Suyo is only a sophomore, so his use of the phrase "Harbin Field" is either a sign of a longtime fan or the fact that the "Multi-Sport Field" name has lost its touch with the student body.

It's sometimes lost its touch with the University, too.

A quote from University spokesperson Julie Bataille, herself a former college journalist, tells the story of this project. "The field has been enhanced over the past few years, with the project being completed in phases as funds are available,” she said.

Of course, that's not quite true. Nothing has been enhanced on the field for quite a while, or about the time the Brown Bears came to town for the 2005 home opener. The temporary stands, the temporary fencing, the reused soccer scoreboard...all signs of a project which sends a very mixed message to recruits, players, and alumni that Georgetown wants to support the sports of football and lacrosse.

So this is why lighting is important--it not only opens up the field for extended practices (no more spring ball at a high school field), it adds three words not heard at Georgetown since the Truman administration: night football games.

Back in the 1940's and early 1950's, Georgetown played most of its games at night, owing to the fact that the Senators used Griffith Stadium by day. When the team reformed at Kehoe Field, the old Kehoe had no such option, and while lights were constructed in 1979, they were not built to have the coverage for a nighttime game.

Yes, maybe Coach Kelly is old-school enough that he wants all games played in the afternoon, end of story, but Georgetown ought to give serious consideration to getting one or two 2009 home games under the lights. Attendance would increase, particularly among students to whom 1:00 pm on a Saturday is brunch time, and add something long since missing at a Hoya football game--a dash of excitement.

Now many Georgetown students come from an area of the country where Friday afternoon and Saturday morning football games draw tepid interest. If you happen to come from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, Florida, or a few other places, the so-called "Friday Night Lights" bring communities together in a big way during high school football season. And among colleges, particularly those in the Sun Belt, an evening game in the fall is a special occasion that brings fans together in a big way.

Nighttime athletics, especially on the weekend, is a somewhat lost tradition at Georgetown. Men's basketball games are almost uniformly in the early afternoon at Verizon Center, and even the women's games tend to be played before, not after, dusk. But for local alumni who are busy with the kids in the early afternoon, the out of towners that can't get up at 6:00 am to make a 1:00 kickoff, or for the students that would rather watch the early game on TV than in the bleachers, a night or game or two might raise the level of interest and participation in Georgetown football that has been much lacking in recent years.

It might even help in the won-loss column. Since 1997, Georgetown is 3-1 in games under the lights, all on the road, including a pair of last minute wins at San Diego and Bucknell.

Hey, every little bit helps.