Athletics Department responds to concerns about flagless arena


(PHOTO/Visarut Pawawongsak)


Patrick Stephens
Staff Writer


The Troy University Athletic department recently hung a physical flag in the Trojan Arena after students spoke out about its absence last week during the Troy University SGA meeting.
“To us it was a non-issue because we had an electronic version of the flag.  We didn’t create the wheel; many venues utilize an electronic flag. But certainly now that some students were passionate about it and spoke out about it, that hadn’t previously done so, we got one put up to accommodate them,” said John Hartwell, the Troy University athletic director.
Christopher Booms, a freshman nursing major from Enterprise and an active member of the National Guard, said, “I felt as a veteran that I went overseas to serve my country and fight for my country, and Troy University being as military friendly as it is, the least thing they can do is put a flag in the arena. I am amongst many veterans, and you know we went over there for a purpose and served our country for a purpose and the least they can do is fly a flag.”
According to Assistant Athletic Director Tony Ferrante, the issue wasn’t one that was taken lightly. “When the arena first opened we went in with the best of intentions trying to find the best, most prominent place for the American flag, and it was interesting because we were not only just looking for wall space or the appropriate place for it, but you had to deal with the view of the flag for everybody, along with the video boards and all the banners,” he said.
The athletic department also cited safety issues as one reason for a lack of a flag up until now. “The arena isn’t the best place to hang it because most places you could hang it, it isn’t possible to get a ladder or scaffolding there safely.  With that being said, we found the best possible place we could get a ladder and get in up there safely, and we got it in place,” Ferrante said.
“Now that a flag is in the Arena I feel a whole lot better. Nowadays we don’t get a whole lot of respect and appreciation. A lot of people have negative views of people in the military so I think the school putting a flag up in the arena makes me happy that people respect what it is that we as servicemen do,” Booms said.
“At no point did we want people to think that we were being disrespectful to the flag, our country, our service
men or American pride.  It’s who we are, its what we
do, individually and athletically, it’s part of the
game. There was no negative reasoning for not having a flag in the building, the building had many obstacles and the hard part was working to overcome those obstacles,” Ferrante said.
According to Ferrante, students can stop by his office or speak to his secretary if they have any issues.
“Here’s the thing, we aren’t going to get better as a department without feedback,” Ferrante said.
“We want to provide the best possible fan experience for the students and the public, and we take that sincerely and we know sometimes we need suggestions. We aren’t going to get better without feedback.
“The decisions that we make aren’t taken lightly they are made for the benefit of the university, the department, the student athletes and students.  We don’t know it all, we don’t claim to know it all, we’re always finding a way to get better from one day to the next.”

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