Dear Reader: Spectatorship

Dear reader by Meg Warwick

I stood on the side-lines of Rugby Varsity last year. The spectators shouted “11 is a nonce” and “14 is a pedo”. Christ Church railed up Kent as they kept screaming offensive phrases at the other team, and vice-versa. Players on the pitch seemed unphased, but I noticed one individual shake his head in what appeared to be disappointed as a crowd member screamed: “YOU’RE A NONCE”. Some thought this gesture ruined the sportsmanship of Varsity. Others felt it was all a part of the fun. It led me to think about the negatives of spectatorship. I always thought that the crowd is supposed to lift the spirits of the team they support, not shut down the opposition through loaded comments. In France, if a spectator hurls abuse at the opposing team then that individual is banned from all future matches. But here, on our very own home ground, crowd members are constantly knocking players down. These individuals should be respected, not mistreated.

Is that what sport is supposed to be about? Deterring the other team through negative words? Players train their hardest in preparation for these games, ready to deliver an intense game for all those watching. If those who call players ‘nonces’ and ‘paedophiles’ faced the same lashings of words, there would be more empathy. That is something Varsity spectators should be aware of; empathy.

And now with the evolution of Varsity where there are so positive many changes, I wish for one more. For more respect and empathy for those players who put themselves onto the pitch for our entertainment.

Dear reader by Casey Magloire

There are very few occasions at university when it feels like everyone is talking about the same thing. From history students to forensic scientists and economists, every student on campus knows about Varsity. There is no other shared experience quite like it that involves so many of us.

Varsity has evolved across the years into one of the most anticipated events of the year, and it is obvious why. Anyone who has watched a match can readily tell you about one of the most thrilling games they have watched. From the close calls to the come backs, Varsity is a spectator’s dream.

A Varsity game that remains a standout is the 2016 Basketball Men’s game. Initially anticipated to be a landslide, the tightly fought game surprised many. The nail biter kept the crowd on edge with half on their feet and the other half stood on chairs to get a better view. All on court played hard until the final seconds with just a few points in it by the time the whistle blew. This was swiftly followed by screams, yells, and celebrations.

The celebrations that follow a Varsity win appear closer to those after Olympic medal-winning performance. Unbeknown to many students at Kent, the long rivalry with CCCU has provided an outlet for the pride we may not have appreciated was there. What makes this special is the fact that you do not have to be a player to enjoy Kent. As a spectator, you share the win, pride, and losses when they do happen. You appreciate the effect of the players and marvel at the abilities of some of the teams you had not had the opportunity to watch before.

Varsity is more than sports, performances or challenges. It is about uniting the University for one week a year with a common goal. No politics or studying – just sports spectatorship in its purest form by celebrating peers and appreciating one another for talents outside academia.

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