Since its launch five years ago, the Courage Bowl has managed to draw a strong student audience at UR and St. John Fisher College. By moving the event off campus, this may no longer be the case.
While the Courage Bowl was once hosted by each university every other year, now students from both schools will have to travel off campus in order to attend the game. Naturally, a casual fan or typical student would be more willing to attend an event on campus than to rely on buses that are inconvenient.
From Chairman and Founder of Camp Good Days and Special Times Gary Mervis’ perspective, the move seems understandable. Since the Courage Bowl is a charity event, it is only natural that Camp Good Days would seek to draw as big an audience and presence as possible.
However, from UR and Fisher’s perspective, this move is stripping both universities of one of their few successful sporting traditions on campus. While the athletes may be excited about playing in a professional arena, there is no way of telling whether a 13,500 capacity arena (Marina Auto Stadium) will be as intimately packed as a 5,000 or 2,100 seated arena (Fauver and Growney Stadium respectively). A strong hometown cheer for a touchdown may now turn into an echoing clap from the dark stands of the Rhinos’ stadium.
Another purpose for the move is to engage the Rochester community. However, the community can be more effectively engaged in other events that are specifically pitched to attract residents. Using a hometown tradition like the Courage Bowl for this feat may be a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul.
It seems that all parties can go home happy if Camp Good Days can raise awareness and funds, and if UR and Fisher can keep a tradition that already engages the campus and the community. None of these goals have to be contradictory. As long as the Courage Bowl stays off campus, however, this change hinders the sporting climate on both universities. The Courage Bowl should return to campus and allow a budding tradition to continue on the same successful path.