Let’s face it: if you’re a Northwestern alum or student, you are likely, in some capacity, a nerd.
You might be a cool nerd who goes out and has fun. You might be a sporty nerd who is the athlete of her friend group of less nerdy individuals. You might be the traditional nerd that reads lots of books and analyzes data in their free time.
But we’re all nerds in one way or another, or we wouldn’t have found our way to NU. One thing I’ve learned about nerds is that they love evidence and tangible things like numbers. So let’s break down some numbers:
3: The number of wins that separate Northwestern’s lacrosse team and its eighth national championship in program history.
6 or 7: The number of wins (depending on their path in the upcoming Evanston Regional) that NU’s softball team — which warmed the hearts of Wildcats fans with upsets of UCLA, Washington, Clemson and others during an otherwise difficult winter season for the ‘Cats — needs to reach the Women’s College World Series for the first time since 2007.
4, 5 or 6: The number of chances Chicagoland Wildcats fans have to see these teams compete in NCAA Tournament action this weekend (again, dependent upon Softball’s game-by-game performance).
2,000: The permanent seating capacity of Martin Stadium (home to Northwestern Lacrosse) according to Northwestern Athletics.
1,000: The capacity of Sharon J. Drysdale Field (home to Northwestern Softball) according to Wikipedia (there was no other source, my apologies).
29,447: The announced attendance, per ESPN, of Northwestern football’s 2019 beat down of UMass. The two teams entered the contest, played in the third-to-last week of the college football season, with a combined two wins and duked it out in 37-degree conditions.
Those of you who know me probably know where I’m going with this.
Sure, that last number, the attendance of the game we here at Inside NU affectionately refer to as the Malört Bowl, was absolutely inflated. As someone who was there, I’d say there were more like 10,000 people at Ryan Field that day.
But even with attendance cut in a third, the point remains: if all of the Northwestern fans who showed up to watch an atrocious sight that shouldn’t be referred to as football on a cold day in November came to just one of the immensely meaningful games being played by NU student-athletes this weekend, the stadiums would all be packed and purple.
Aside from providing Northwestern teams with a meaningful home-field advantage as they pursue glory on the national stage, this is what these student-athletes deserve.
Now, I understand that this is not exactly the most convenient timing for these events to be taking place. Thursday afternoon, as lacrosse seeks revenge against Syracuse, Jon Rothstein will host a free happy hour in downtown Chicago to provide some treatment to the ailing souls of Northwestern basketball fans. Then, on Saturday, Northwestern will hold its first in-person Dillo Day in three years as the second day of the Evanston Regional takes place a mile over at The J. I won’t act like I’m not attending both of these alternative events, and, as such, missing some of the athletic action happening on campus this weekend.
But the point here isn’t that every Northwestern fan that would support a bad football team at a bad game should go to every single one of these events this weekend, though some of the most passionate will do so. The point is that failing to show up to a single one would be a damning indication of how you feel about women’s sports.
These women have represented a school we all hold dear proudly across the nation this season. Their teams are considered amongst the best in the country, and they’re playing their most consequential games of the season right here, where so many of us live. After bitterly disappointing football and basketball seasons that were emblematic of the frigid Chicago winter, the Spring of the Wildcat and its accompanying warm weather is finally here.
You wouldn’t make excuses to not show up if a No. 4 Northwestern football team was taking on a team — say, Ohio State — that had denied it of its goals a year prior. You'd certainly be exhausting every measure possible to make your way to United Center if Northwestern men’s basketball was playing in March Madness at the Madhouse on Madison.
As such, every self-declared Northwestern diehard in the area should be making their way to Evanston at least once this weekend to support the Wildcats and provide them with the advantage they’ve earned with their incredible play this season. Tickets for the ‘Cats’ Thursday afternoon quarterfinal clash with rival Syracuse cost just $8 for adults and $5 for youth — and Northwestern students can pick up a ticket for free at the ticket booth with their Wildcards. Similar pricing applies to single-day passes for softball’s Evanston Regional. These are minuscule figures, even when compared to regular-season prices for football and basketball.
If we all do our part, we can show the college sports world that Northwestern’s fanbase is a proud one that will line up behind any successful student-athlete in purple and white, regardless of their gender. And as a fan base that has been frequently tortured in the last year, maybe we can all experience some meaningful wins in the process.