To round out the last several weeks of discussion about the best path forward for William & Mary Athletics, we decided to democratize the process through a vote. To do that, we took to social media! If you’re not already following us on social media, or if you’re not yet a part of our Facebook group (links at the bottom of this article), we recommend you join in — we’d love to hear from you! And thanks again to everyone who participated in these polls and engaged in active discussion on the topic.
Jumping right into it, it’s first important to understand that our followers on Facebook (including those in the Green & Gold Club) skew toward a slightly older demographic, especially compared to our followers on Instagram. This should come as no surprise, since that’s exactly how the demographics play out across the two social media sites as a whole; older folks tend to be on Facebook, while younger folks tend to be on Instagram.
It’s also important to note that we at the W&M Sports Blog have far more current W&M students and recent alums following us on Instagram than we do on Facebook. Think: younger millennials and Gen Z on Instagram. We’d also note that we have a far higher percentage of current & recent W&M student athletes following us on Instagram than on Facebook.
To say the least, there are certainly differences between the Facebook and Instagram poll results — that makes it even more important to keep in mind the demographic make-up of the voters in each instance. And while this certainly isn’t a scientific study with massive poll results, it’s nonetheless an interesting jumping-off point for further research to be considered in the near future.
Facebook Poll Results (Green and Gold Club)
To quantify the results further: just over 70% of all Facebook voters said that W&M should remain in the CAA. Another 20% (not an insignificant amount) voted for W&M to pursue the Patriot League.
Somewhat surprising to us was the minimal ~10% of Facebook voters who said W&M should pursue the Atlantic-10. Of course, this is a simple poll without much depth. But when thinking about what’s happened in W&M Athletics over this past year, specifically thinking about former AD Samantha Huge‘s strategy to emphasize football and men’s & women’s basketball (beginning a potential path toward the A-10), the poll results above suggest that W&M fans on Facebook disagree with a path that might lead W&M to a “higher” conference in the A-10.
Either way, these results warrant more discussion and offer insight into how older W&M alums view the school’s current situation and potential path forward.
While we don’t have the exact number of respondents for the Instagram poll, it’s more than fair to assume that the final poll here included far more respondents (with a far younger demographic) than the Facebook poll. The way Instagram works in its “Story” functionality, we were only able to ask questions individually; that’s why you’ll see them broken out one-by-one here and below. This certainly makes it so that we’re unable to conduct a true apples to apples comparison, but the results are interesting to consider nonetheless.
One can clearly see that the majority of respondents on Instagram think that W&M should stay in the CAA (in line with the Facebook’s #1 result); however, it’s also important to note that a significant percentage (nearly 2 in 5 respondents) think that W&M should not stay in the CAA. Keep in mind this is a far younger demographic than on Facebook; this demo holds views that are potentially far more representative of the future of W&M Athletics than the Olde Guarde on Facebook.
So the natural question that arises out of the first Instagram poll above is: if it’s not going to be the CAA for 2 out of 5 respondents, which league should it be? When it comes to pursuing the Patriot (a far more academically-minded conference than the CAA), the younger Instagram cohort is split again, with 2 in 3 saying W&M should not pursue the Patriot, while a significant number (1 in 3 respondents) think that W&M should pursue the Patriot. Keep in mind that this is a higher percentage than seen on Facebook (where 20% voted for the Patriot).
This is relatively surprising to us, as it shows many current W&M students & young alums agree with William & Mary pursuing an athletic path that more heavily emphasizes academics — at least far more than the CAA does. At the end of the day, this result shows us that while the majority on Instagram still believes the CAA is the right place for W&M currently, the Patriot may yet be a viable option in the eyes of many current students and young alums.
In perhaps the most surprising result of them all, Instagram respondents showed the highest interest in W&M pursuing the Atlantic-10. This seemingly agrees with the notion that W&M should pursue increased athletic excellence in order to make a supposed move “up” to the A-10, BUT one has to assume that the majority of Instagram respondents largely disagreed with former Athletic Director Samantha Huge‘s strategy to get W&M to this end goal.
Either way, this result was essentially a complete toss-up among respondents: almost an even 50/50 split on whether or not W&M should pursue the A-10. This certainly warrants more consideration and discussion among the wider W&M community, as it runs in opposition to the Facebook poll above; however, given a larger sample size on Facebook, perhaps we would have seen the same trend emerge (though we doubt that based on our knowledge of our Facebook following’s demographics & overall sentiment).
Perhaps current W&M students & recent alums are on board with the fact that W&M should in fact pursue higher excellence in athletics; however, what they likely do not agree with is prioritizing one sport over any other, as former AD Samantha Huge made clear was her plan. In the end, we still can’t ignore that the majority of Instagram respondents still said that W&M should remain in the CAA. And this is likely the most sensible path forward, based on both the Facebook & Instagram polls — at least for now.
Overall, we hope this has been an enlightening process for everyone involved: from our recent articles to social media discussions and ultimately to these polls — there are great arguments to be made on all sides of this issue. What’s most important is that we as a W&M community remain united on the next step forward. Because without a doubt, the next five years will be incredibly formative for W&M Athletics as it emerges from a leadership change, COVID-19, and the ever-changing collegiate sports landscape.
LET’S GO TRIBE.