Nick McAdam, Assistant Sports Editor
According to the NCAA, over 70,000 college athletes participate in winter sports; that is, around 14 percent of the total 480,000 athletes at the collegiate level that exists. Offseason athletes or non-athletes, in general, decide to watch the winter sport of their choosing.
According to the official Utica College website, over half of the UC population participates in athletics affiliated with the NCAA. The remaining 40 percent or less can choose among intramural sports or watching sports on television.
Wyatt Cayer, a sophomore at Utica College, prefers the latter option as he enjoys watching his favorite NHL team, the Boston Bruins. Cayer has a passion for the team, its players and the city of Boston itself.
“I’ve liked the Bruins for years now, since the first hockey game I went to with my friends in Boston and I was able to see them play,” Cayer said.
“I love the players and the team in general and it’s always a blast seeing them win and following them on social media.”
Cayer has seen the Bruins win enough this season. At the moment, the Bruins are third in the Atlantic Division while occupying a playoff position. Boston currently has 31 wins and 70 points, trailing only the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Tampa Bay Lightning in their respective division.
Switching over to the court, another non-athlete is sophomore Lindsey Rasmussen, who enjoys watching basketball. The education major prefers watching college basketball over the NBA, noting the difference in atmosphere, ranking and overall excitement in watching games.
“College basketball is a lot more fun to watch simply because there’s no campus around the country that doesn’t have crazy fans for the school they go to,” Rasmussen said. “People are going to devote more love and fandom for their school than an organization in the NBA in my opinion.”
Rasmussen is particularly excited for March Madness, which is just around the corner. The top 25 teams in college basketball are getting close as each team except Nevada and top-ranked Tennessee have lost at least two games.
“March Madness is always fun to watch,” Rasmussen said. “I enjoy making brackets, but of course, they never end up predicting anything the right way.”
Shane Walpole, a defensive lineman for the Pioneers football team, shares an interest in both sports that Cayer and Rasmussen watch. Walpole stays more local; he attends the local basketball games and the Pioneer hockey games that take place at the Adirondack Bank Center.
Walpole credits his interest in winter sports to the football team, who hold an accountability points system to see which member of the team attends the most Pioneer athletic competitions or games.
“We have a competition with different teams to see who can get the most points,” Walpole said. “It’s fun to have a competition with each other, and it’s also fun to be able to go to the games and support the other teams.”
Despite the interest among these students in winter sports, the season is coming near the end for most Utica teams. Most teams have a few games remaining before the winter sports season draws to a close.
However, supporters for winter athletics, such as Rasmussen, still believe that there is much more to come from cold competition.
“March Madness is right around the corner and this one is looking really promising,” Rasmussen said. “Plus, both the NHL and the NBA go right towards the start of summer, so they’ll both be with fans until the end of the semester.”