Should it Matter Who Plays in the Independence Bowl?
The match up for the 43rd edition of the Walk On's Independence Bowl is set. This year we get the Duke Blue Devils and the Temple Owls on December 27th. And let's be honest here...of all the potential match ups we could have gotten, this is probably a worst case scenario. Neither team is a national powerhouse. Neither team have historical significance in the college football world. This isn't the cream of the crop or two great teams. But should any of that really matter?
Going back to when I moved here 15+ years ago, I was stoked to find out there was a college bowl game in town. I had several buddies come down to go to the game because they had never been to one and it was on their bucket list. It literally did not matter who was in the game. It wasn't about the game as much as it was about the experience. But, the one question my buddies kept asking me was "why isn't there more people here?" Back then, I didn't have an answer. Today, unfortunately, I do.
For whatever reason, folks just don't support the great things that we have in town. Whether we're talking the Indy Bowl, the Mudbugs...any event or business really, people just don't show up. Look, this certainly isn't LSU v UCF and the NCAA has done their best to over saturate the market with Bowl games...but none of that should matter. None of those events are happening in our backyard. They aren't sponsored by a local company. The Independence Bowl is.
People talk all the time about why no companies wants to move to Shreveport and they blame crime and blight and trash, etc.. Which all may factor in. But really, to know all you need to about Shreveport, all you have to do is watch the Independence Bowl and follow the reactions to the game on social media. The stands are empty and the internet is filled with hostility and misplaced anger. Since the announcement, social media has been flooded with people bashing the teams, the Independence Bowl organization, the building, the stadium and anything else they can think of.
One 'gentleman' posted on the KEEL Facebook page "Duke vs temple?? Why not just cancel the bowl and accept that it's a lost cause!" Another... "KEEL [will say its] the greatest thing [to] ever happened—oh I can see Matt polishing the turd." Well, I hate to admit that they're right about anything... but the game itself is more than likely going to suck. And even if its a great game, its still hard to get behind two teams their own fan bases don't care about. There's no way around that. But, with statements and attitudes like what I posted above, why would any team want to play here? Why would any business want to come here? Why would anyone want to be around you people?
To kind of put this in perspective, when it was announced an NHL hockey franchise was starting in Nashville Tennessee, the hockey world laughed. You go back and pull up the press from that time, you literally see people calling it the worst financial decision in sports history. They predicted the team would bomb and be in a 'traditional' hockey market in no time. The one thing those people didn't count on was the Nashville community. The community literally rallied around a team and sport they didn't understand just because it was theirs. Fast forward a few years, and Nashville is one of the best hockey markets in the WORLD.
If we acted like the Independence Bowl was the greatest thing ever. If we rallied behind the event and showed up. If we actually at least pretended to care about anything happening in our community, we might actually go from struggling to prospering. Things would turn around.
But, like most things, we can't seem to stay out of our own way. We'd rather focus all our energy on the negatives, instead of celebrating the fact we have something that most communities don't. There's very few things more exciting than a college bowl game, yet somehow, we've manged to kill all the joy in ours.
If you really want to help Shreveport, the I-Bowl, Walk On's and the community as a whole...shut up, buy a ticket and support the game. You can watch a game that you like on your iPad in the stands. But complaining online and not supporting the things we have in our community isn't helping anyone.