With the start of the new semester and the influx of new faces on campus, an age-old question again rises to the surface.
What does it mean to have school spirit?
In thinking about school spirit and athletics, certain images spring to mind. A home game for the Duke University basketball team, where the “Cameron Crazies” pack the arena with their blue-and-white-painted faces. It’s a sight no opposing team gets used to.
Or how about the University of Michigan and football, where more than 105,000 turn out to cheer on the maize and blue.
On a smaller scale, the North Carolina women’s soccer team — which since 1981 has won the national championship every year except 1995 — averaged 2,400 fans at every home game during last season’s undefeated campaign.
Unfortunately, BYU is not the first place that comes to mind when discussing school spirit and athletics, despite the success of our teams. No national magazine will list BYU as the best spot to watch a sporting event.
So that brings us back to the original question. What does it mean to have school spirit? Is it enough to simply attend BYU sporting events?
The football stadium seats more than 65,000 people, and a BYU football game is the hottest ticket in town. Starting today, students will line up outside the Marriott Center to purchase season tickets for football, and most will attend every home game.
Along with the football tickets comes a little item called the All-Sport card, allowing access to any BYU sport except those not competing in the NCAA. For most students, this card is dropped into a drawer to be pulled out if they decide to attend a basketball game. Judging by the attendance the past two seasons at the Marriott Center, it’s a big ‘if’.
That is not school spirit. School spirit is supporting all our school’s teams, regardless of their win-loss record. School spirit is getting mad at fellow students who are cheering for our rivals to win — in anything.
BYU’s women’s volleyball team is ranked in the top 5 again this season, and will draw a fairly large crowd at the Smith Fieldhouse. But nothing close to football. The women’s soccer team is in the top 20 in both the polls and in attendance figures, but only draws around 1,000 per game.
Yet somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000 of the All-Sport cards are handed out with the football tickets like refrigerator magnets.
We need to increase our school spirit by supporting all our sports teams. It all boils down to our attitude at the events. Don’t go to the football game as a student, go as a fan. There’s a difference.
Fans have spirit, and they demonstrate it by making signs, cheering loudly, wearing wigs and, in general, going crazy. Students are at the game because their ward got tickets and they decided it would be “cool” to go to the games.
Fans will go to a football game at noon, the soccer game at 5 p.m. and then the volleyball game at 7 p.m. Students show up at 9:30 p.m. for the post-game dance.
This season, let’s make BYU a university of fans by supporting all our teams. Let’s flood the soccer field and Smith Fieldhouse with so many people there won’t be room for us all. Let’s use the All-Sport cards for more than another wallet- or purse-stuffer.
Then we will know what school spirit really is.