Why soccer deserves your support

The loss of tennis may be sad, but soccer is stepping in as a fun alternative

By Jenna Jamieson, Opinion writer

There have been some major changes to SIU Athletics recently, and I have had several reservations as a fan and community member. 

Some of the changes resulted in removing the men’s and women’s tennis teams and adding soccer, which I have mixed feelings about.  

I am an avid tennis fan. In fact, I played tennis in high school, took tennis lessons and watch each tennis major intently.  

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It’s one of my favorite things to do. You might even call tennis a passion of mine. So when I heard SIU was getting rid of men’s and women’s tennis, I was a bit annoyed. It wasn’t that I went to every match, but the loss stung because I love the sport.  

The change seemed to evoke a little bit of controversy from community members and fans.  Some feel there may have been conflicting reports regarding Title IX violations, despite the budgetary issues that faced the university with funding the tennis teams. 

It doesn’t necessarily matter why these teams were axed, other than giving closure to a tennis enthusiast like me. 

Soccer has become the new sport on the block. It’s bringing in new crowds, new fans, community members and potentially even more opportunities for raising money.  

From the first game with over 2,000 fans to the amazing involvement from the community, I find myself even more invested in the team than I thought I would be. While I thought it was sad to see tennis go, I think it’s exciting to see where the women’s soccer team will take us.  

According to Liz Jarnigan, newly appointed athletic director, “there has been a very positive reception by students and the general community to the addition of the women’s soccer program.”

It is evident that there are high hopes to engage students, staff and the community at large. I have to say that while I love tennis, I can definitely get behind a team that brings in the community and supports local soccer players by recruiting from some of our area high schools. 

Beyond that, something that soccer is doing that didn’t really happen for tennis is bringing in fans and more money. Tennis wasn’t a sport that brought in fans in this capacity or made beer and food sales in the way that soccer has. Not to mention, it’s a perfect activity for the family. 

I encourage those that haven’t given soccer a shot to grab some lawn chairs or blankets and come enjoy a game. The atmosphere is amazing, and it’s worth being part of this inaugural season whether you’re a player on the field or a fan in the stands.  

Opinion writer Jenna Jamieson can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @jennarpjamieson.

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