Column: Where did the students go?

Beau Troutman

Grand Valley State football won the 2016 Anchor-Bone Classic over rival Ferris State 35-23 Saturday, Oct. 8.

A record-setting Lubbers Stadium crowd of 16,889 attendees watched the Lakers win their first regular season matchup with the Bulldogs since 2011.

Well, kind of.

The vast majority of the student section—which was jam-packed with students in the bleachers and on the student hill—cleared out at halftime, leaving only a handful of Laker faithful to watch the second-half drama.

The Lakers were up 28-6 at the half. So, what did the students who left early miss?

The Bulldogs ripped off 17 straight points in the second half. Bart Williams hit receiver Nick Dodson on a clutch, beautifully-placed pass to receiver Nick Dodson to deal a death-blow to the Bulldogs’ chances. The Laker defense stifled former Division I player and current Bulldogs’ quarterback Reggie Bell late in the fourth, sealing a close Laker victory.

Oh, but you missed it? Just ask a friend. The most important game of the season, and you’re going to ask your friend, who probably doesn’t even know what the GLIAC is, for the SparkNotes recap on arguably the most important game of the regular season.

This isn’t your Monday accounting class downtown you routinely skip after every test, asking for the notes from a friend. This is a football game—a cornerstone of college life and a cultural touchstone since the late 1800s. This is part of what connects GVSU to most everywhere geographically outside of West Michigan. We have a national identity in football.

The occasional “#AnchorUp” will not suffice.

The first three home games, you get a pass. I get it. We were up by margins of 21, 42 and 27, respectively at the half.

Not this game, though.

The Bulldogs had the best fan turnout of any away team at Lubbers Stadium this season. They didn’t leave. They were there to cheer on Bell and the Bulldog offense that gashed the Lakers in the second half. They were here to scream and cry and yell when the Laker offense was on the field, hoping to distract quarterback Bart Williams and his communication with the rest of the team.

So where were you?

The Bulldogs’ fan section was painted red and yellow. Our student section—or should I call it first-half seating?—was barren, a far cry from an actual student section. The cold bleachers at the south end zone were littered with inflated thundersticks, ticket stubs and the occasional straggler, whose faint cheer could only be heard when the Bulldogs’ section was just quiet enough.

The alcohol and late-night Taco Bell runs can wait. It isn’t going anywhere. Your football team, though, is going somewhere. The Lakers are ranked No. 2 in the nation and are looking forward to another deep postseason run after making the national semifinal last season.

We have the winningest Division II football team ever. This is not a luxury every university has.

Imagine being a Saginaw Valley State fan. They have a valid excuse to leave at half time.

You should’ve been there to witness the second half of a game that was decided in that half.

Imagine if the Bulldogs had come back and won. The Bulldogs’ fans would’ve been cheering, jeering and bragging in our own stadium. The Lakers would have been wallowing to the locker room, the deafening silence from an absent student section offering no support.

Where would you have been?