The state of local sports franchises


Andrew Brown

The view from the stands of a VCU vs. University of Richmond men’s basketball game on Feb. 24.

Camerin Thrweatt, Editor

People in Chesterfield County do not tend to support the local teams and instead focus their attention on professional sports teams in other cities.

While the Commonwealth of Virginia is not known for professional sports, it is well known in the landscape of college sports, with teams such as the University of Virginia Cavaliers (UVA), Virginia Commonwealth University Rams (VCU), Longwood Lancers, Liberty Flames and Virginia Tech Hokies. There are also minor league teams like the Richmond Flying Squirrels and Richmond Kickers, along with a number of high school teams at schools in the area. 

The recognition at the college and high school level for sports other than football and basketball is not as high as it could be. Because of the lack of recognition of local teams, junior Nathan Handal maintains that the teams in the area do not catch his interest. Instead he prefers pro sports which receive more overall viewership.

“I don’t follow local teams,” Handal said. “I think the local teams just suck and that’s why I follow teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers.”

In addition to the low attention paid to college teams, social studies teacher and coach of the Clover Hill’s varsity boys basketball team Scott Mccandlish has noticed the decline of attention that high school athletes receive. He ties it to the nationwide trend of a decline in local journalism, which includes the recent shutdown of the Chesterfield Observer.

“When I first started here, print newspapers would have all high school athletes, but now, because of the shrinking of these newspapers, there is barely any coverage of these teams,” Mccandlish said.

Gym teacher and varsity baseball coach Brett Mooney expressed why he believes the local teams do not get coverage like they used to.

“I think because of social media it’s not that big of news since it’s instant and it’s more spread out,” Mooney said. “You’re going to get updates on the local sports unless you follow the local sports atlas which unfortunately most people don’t know exist.”

Mooney believes that the lack of press coverage on high school sports will not affect the players potential future.

“I don’t believe it’s negatively affecting the players because if you’re that good, pro scouts will notice you because you’re putting up the numbers and it’s not even about highlights, it’s about what they do day in and day out,” Mooney said.

As a result of the lack of professional sports teams in the state of Virginia, many fans are left to choose between many different potential favorites. Mooney believes that there is so much diversity between fans because of the location of central Virginia in relation to cities with professional sports teams. 

“Because we’re in a weird spot, we have options to follow our favorite athlete because we don’t really have any professional teams to root for,” Mooney said.

Most people’s favorite teams are simply not in this area and the same can be said about athletes who are among fan favorites; most of them are also not in the Central Virginia area. Because of this focus on outside teams, local teams are often neglected which harms their players and profits. The Kickers, Flying Squirrels and local college and high school teams could benefit from more fan support.