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February 22, 2024

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You don’t have to be a sports fan to express school spirit

When the BGSU athletic department fired football coach Gregg Brandon, there was speculation the move was partially a result of Brandon’s comments about empty seats at Doyt Perry Stadium when BGSU lost to Buffalo on Nov. 21. “That crowd was pitiful and I’m so disappointed,” Brandon said after the loss.

The crowd in the stadium that evening was rather sparse, and I do not blame Brandon for being upset that more people did not attend the game. After Brandon made the comments about fan turnout, I heard similar criticism of the lack of school spirit at this University, based on poor attendance at games.

While it is unfortunate that athletic teams may not reach desired attendance numbers, I don’t think it is right that people are considered lacking in spirit and enthusiasm for their school simply because they may not take an interest in athletic events.

I will be completely honest: I do not have much interest in sports. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with attending or enjoying sporting events, they just are not my cup of tea. So, I guess one could say that I don’t have any school spirit, since I don’t actively root for University teams. My question is, since when has playing or enjoying sports become the only way to express appreciation for your school?

Every day, I see plenty of students who show their enthusiasm for the University. Students who participate in the arts and express their creativity are doing so with the resources provided to them by the University. Aren’t they expressing school spirit by making BGSU unique and creative? They are working hard to get the most out of their time at the University, and to me, that is also a way to express school spirit.

They work hard to perform or present their work to the public, much in the same way that sports players work hard to perform to large crowds. Additionally, I rarely hear complaints that someone is lacking school spirit because they do not support cultural programs. Like our athletic program, students involved in other programs should have a fair amount of support from the campus community, but that doesn’t always happen.

Those who are involved with campus programs such as University Activities Organization, Resident Student Association, and similar organizations clearly take pride in their school, if they are willing to help plan engaging activities for students. If one takes part in these activities, aren’t they also expressing some amount of school spirit by attempting to take advantage of what the school offers?

Or, not to sound self-congratulatory, but don’t those who work for this newspaper or similar student publications have a level of school spirit for working to inform the campus on the news of the University and beyond? The list of activities goes on and on, and you get my idea. The point is that people will support a cause they are passionate about, and through their passions, they can express enthusiasm and spirit for the University without sitting in the stands or playing on the field.

This idea of equating school spirit with sports reminds me of high school, where “pep” or spirit points were always assigned to people who attended or participated in sporting events or pep rallies. Those of us, who, say, were in the Current Events Club, newspaper, chorus or other academic programs were not considered to be “peppy” or spirited, and therefore, were somewhat overlooked. College is about growing and discovering our own personal interests; if showing support for the school lies in other non-athletic realms, students (as well as staff) should not be looked down upon.

I feel that I am a Falcon, even though I may not play for any sports teams. I attend school here, and in my eyes, giving money to the school in the form of tuition is the simplest expression of school spirit possible.

I’m here because I believe that this school will help me get a good education, and while I doubt anyone thinks the University is perfect, I think that we all have a level of appreciation for what it has to offer, in one way or another, and we express it through all types of programs.

Again, I am not against the support of athletic teams, or people rooting for them. Even though I do not have a particular interest in sports, I certainly wish the best for every team, because sports are indeed connected so deeply with school spirit (and high ticket revenue isn’t a bad thing, either). However, simply because students may not attend sporting events, that doesn’t mean they lack school spirit. They may simply express their passion for BGSU beyond the bleachers.

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