Morehouse College, better still, Forbes Arena, had the honor and benefit of hosting the first two rounds of the Division II NCAA tournament South Region a few weeks ago and in the corner opposite the Morehouse Maroon Tigers bench were a dozen fans shouting their heads off.
The reason these young men, all in Morehouse paraphernalia, were so into the game was because they could relate, at least to the passion and energy of competition.
The Morehouse College baseball team had been regular visitors to the basketball games this season and the level of support they gave to the basketball team during what ended up being a record-setting season at the historically Black college is something they sure could use right now.
“It would be nice for the maroon nation to embrace Morehouse’s storied history of spring sports by attending more baseball games, tennis matches, track and field meets, etc.,” says Kevin D. Chapman, Jr., the school’s athletic academic advisor.
Chapman, class of 2006, can be found at nearly all of the Maroon Tigers athletic events, part work, part passion for his school and the teams that represent it in the respective fields of play.
“Spring sports including the golf team, have remained competitive year after year with little fan support,” Chapman said.
That is something that has to change, or can it?
Clark Atlanta’s baseball team is currently 7-10, more importantly, they are 5-4 at home at Bill Evans Field in College Park after losing both sides of a doubleheader against Spring Hill College on Saturday.
Not too many Panthers baseball fans may know this because of the lack of fan sightings at home games this season. In fact, there might have been as many fans from Mobile, Alabama rooting for Badgers than there was for the home teams. Emphasis on the word home.
The Panthers and the Maroon Tigers, both play off campus.
Panthers assistant baseball coach Michael E. Moore, Jr. thinks he has an idea why the baseball team might not be as popular as the basketball and football games at Clark Atlanta.
“It’s mainly due to the fact that neither programs have facilities on campus,” said Moore via email. “We play 25-30 minutes away from campus. I’m sure we would have the support of both students and faculty if we played on campus.”
Moore continued, “Just down the road at Georgia Tech they have a field in the middle of campus that’s within walking distance of student housing.”
Moore might have forgotten to mention that for decades the Yellow Jackets baseball program has been as successful if not more so than both the basketball programs and football program.
Morehouse junior infielder Amyr Smith, who also doubles as a receiver for the football team agrees with Moore’s theory.
“I believe fans are not so willing to come support the baseball team due to the lack of transportation,” Smith said. “I believe that if there was a field on campus the support would rise tremendously. More people want to support Morehouse sports.”
Morehouse College has the distinction of having one of the greatest Olympians in the history of the sport as an alumnus.
Class of 1978 graduate and all-time great hurdler Edwin Moses started his career at Morehouse College and probably didn’t have to look too far to find fans support at his collegiate meets.
Today not so much, as the Maroon Tigers no longer compete in serious meets on campus.
On Saturday afternoon they were competing at Charleston Southern University’s Whitfield Stadium with Dedrick Vanover finishing first in the 100-meter competition.
Sophomore Montavious Coleman finished third in the discus and Collins Kiplimo won the 3000-meter steeplechase. The athletes running track at Morehouse are serious competitors worthy of support.
So is the softball team at Clark Atlanta, and they do play on campus. There’s a two-game series against Benedict College this weekend and a bit of Panther pride could go a long way to helping the Panthers pick up a couple conference wins.
Did I mention that Morehouse College has a lacrosse team or that Clark Atlanta’s men’s and women’s tennis programs are doing well this season? All three play on campus too.
Back to that Morehouse student/baseball team section.
“The baseball team loved supporting the basketball and football team [this season],” says senior outfielder Jared Maner. “We enjoy going to their games and it makes it more enjoyable when they’re out there getting big wins. We would love to have plenty of fans at every game.”
Same goes for players on the other side of the AUC, they too want to play in front of large home crowds like their basketball playing classmates.
“I definitely feel like that’s fair,” said Clark Atlanta sophomore catcher/infielder Calvin Butler about fan support at baseball games coming close to what he saw this year at Panthers men’s and women’s basketball games. “All sports should be supported the same way. We want to win and represent CAU like the girls and guys basketball teams and fan support definitely helps on the baseball field.”
A Clark Atlanta tennis match I attended last month only had a handful of spectators. The Panthers defeated visiting West Georgia University and are currently 7-5 this season.
This year’s SIAC golf championships will be in the Atlanta area, between April 16-18, at Flat Creek Country Club. There’s a lot of opportunities to see and support Clark Atlanta and Morehouse sports in between football and basketball season.
Did I forget to mention that Morris Brown College sent a team—Joseph Ervin III, Joseph Parker, and Desmond Scott—to compete in the second annual Battle of the brains in Austin, Texas?
Plenty of sports to support indeed.