Letter to Editor: Despite football loss, season should not be termed disappointment

This afternoon in football games played across the upper midwest, MSU won, as hoped, UM lost, as feared, and then GVSU played and … unexpectedly lost but also apparently unnoticed. Yes, our beloved Lakers lost in the 2nd round of the national football playoffs against Augustana College in South Dakota. No doubt there will be many who will say they/we were outplayed on both sides of the ball, and out-coached throughout, and perhaps for that singular game it was true. If so, the better team won and deservedly so. Best wishes to them for continued success.

But is that the end of the story that Laker Nation wants and needs to hear? The 2010 Laker football team went 11-2, one of only 16 teams nationally to be allowed to so. And we/they did it with:

(i) a 1st time head coach, and
(ii) a 1st time quarterback, and
(iii) a 1st time lead running back, and
(iv) multiple freshmen in the deep backfield, and
(iv) without everyone’s Titan, all-American Danny Richard who prowled the sidelines for 15 weeks but could do little else.

Most significantly they did it (v) without palpable student support in the crucial last weeks when the competitive football playing field was significantly leveled.
The Lakers were bested by a team with only a fraction of GVSU’s enrollment, but with an equal number of athletic recruiting scholarships, 10 times the geographic drawing area, and it must be said, a comparably pathetic student cheering section at the playoff game.

Locally, not a single notice of where Laker Nationals might assemble at game time was sent via Facebook or any other social network as far as I could discern 24 hours before the game. I watched, alone in a popular local tavern, surrounded by rabid MSU and UM fans who instantly bonded with their adjacent booth and table-mates over every play and referee’s whistle affecting their games.

Not so for Laker fans — none were even available to be toasted when Chris Crawford ran a kickoff return back for a touchdown, the only one all season; or when Michael Hatcher brilliantly batted down a touchdown saving reception; or when QB Kyle Mcmahon scrambled for seemingly a half hour before completing a pass to Justin Sherrod to turn a desperate loss of yardage into a net gain.

Next year’s team portends spectacular results based on this year’s successes with many players returning at key positions. But it would be criminally unethical to speed emotionally ahead to next year’s hopes without pausing today to celebrate this year’s effort and successes. The forthcoming winter banquet is open to all but few beyond players’ families ever attend, and that is sad news indeed. Let it not be so in 2011.

The 2010 Laker Football team will not battle in Alabama for a national title, but that is no reason to judge this season a disappointment. The 2010 Laker football players have achieved more victories over the past 4 years than any other team still playing. If the absence of a national title is to be lamented it is not for lack of effort, or player leadership. The Lakers have long been and will continue to be a nationally prominent power and deserving of every Laker fan’s committed support and encouragement. Let that support begin with an overflow attendance at the winter banquet. On Thanksgiving weekend, let’s commit to say thanks to a truly remarkable team that delivered some of the most exciting football in recent years at Lubbers Stadium.

Paul J. Reitemeier, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Philosophy, GVSU