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Athletes continue to participate in Falcon Cup challenge

November 14, 2013

Every school wishes that attendance was equal at all sporting events and that there was some way they could get athletes involved in and promoting other sports.

We’ve seen it more and more nationally the last few years; the most memorable one to me would be Robert Griffin III attending the Baylor Lady Bears run to a national title.

Here at UW-River Falls, our Falcon athletes have found a way to support each other, and, naturally, in a competitive way.

A new challenge was announced this year to all Falcon athletes, the Falcon Cup Challenge. Points are based on a number of things, all leading to the winner of the cup announced at the end of the year at annual Falcon Awards.

So lets get to the scoring and how it works. Points can be awarded for conference finish, having an All-American on the team, highest team term grade point average and having an academic All-American.

The most controversial scoring of this is the ability of teams sending a percentage of their students to an event and receiving points based upon that percentage. An example would be say a tennis team with 15 girls on it, could have eight girls go and they would receive six points.

The football team of 100 players could send 15 guys to the same event and only receive four points, a thought that sophomore quarterback Ryan Kusilek thinks should have been considered before hand.

“It kind of makes it hard on us, we have a lot more schedules to work around and with so we can’t necessarily just send half of the team to an event and bank on those points, it’s difficult to get that many guys together when it’s not practice.”

While Kusilek argued that the scoring part can be viewed as unfair, he was quick to say that he loves the idea of a Falcon Cup Challenge and the thought of the “Falcon family” growing.

In talking to several Falcon athletes, that term came up a ton. Falcon family. What does that mean, to promote and grow the Falcon family? To Kusilek it means going out and watching other teams play and getting to know those players, and pretty soon, you realize that you have math class with him and science with her. Then, he said, you have a new member of your Falcon family and a friend.

Men’s basketball senior forward Ben Gressmer said growing the Falcon family to him means expanding the reach of the basketball team into other sports, and making friends along the way.

Women’s hockey sophomore forward/defensemen Leah Gefroh claimed that to her the Falcon family is always strong; this will only make it stronger.

So is this idea gimmicky? Kusilek said not at all. “I do not think so, I think the intentions of this are to get athletes to care more about other sports and get us out there to watch them.”

Gefroh agreed, but said she does not take it as seriously as others. “I might text some friends and say that I’m heading somewhere to watch the game and ask them if they want to go, but it’s not that serious to me, but I would not call it gimmicky.”

So it’s promoting the Falcon family, but how close do people really pay attention to the standings, and are actually trying to win it?

“We don’t find out about the standing until the end of the week, but it’s not something that makes me sit on the edge of my seat,” Kusilek said.

Gressmer said that the men’s basketball team’s biggest rivals are the women’s basketball team, and he is aware of their first place standing, and said that yes, he wants to win and follows the scoring.

Former UWRF women’s basketball player Nikki Guhr said that she thinks this will promote Falcon athletics and make community relationships better. She also said that this will not make other people attend the lesser-attended events, because if they have not attended before, they most likely never will.

So is this Falcon Cup Challenge a gimmick or is it something to make naturally competitive individuals more competitive all the while supporting their fellow athletes?

Only time will tell.

Brandon Jones is a senior journalism major minoring in political science. Sports means the world to him. The sound of a ball cracking against a bat, a ref blowing his whistle: It all means the same thing for him -- happiness. We all have our thing, his is sports.