Oftentimes you’ll hear people reminisce about the glory days of sports at the U of C: We won the first Heisman trophy, went undefeated against Notre Dame, and packed the great Stagg Field full of fans. While our athletics program is no longer a D-I powerhouse, the sports teams have certainly grown since we left the Big Ten in 1946. The best part of it all is that Maroon sports fans have taken note: Over the past four years that I’ve been here, attendance at games and overall excitement surrounding athletics have seen a huge increase. Now we just need to make sure we can keep up the spirit.
First, fans need to attend the big home games. While it’s great to support your friend, housemate, etc. at the random home game here and there, it’s the large events that bring attention to school spirit and make more people want to be a part of it. Going to games like Homecoming for football or Beach Night for basketball not only shows teams support, but also works as a publicity push for sportsmanship. Keeping up fan attendance at these games is huge.
Another way for the Maroons to draw even more fans is to create a healthy rivalry, and I’ve already got one in mind: WashU. Yes, it would be nice to have a more local rivalry with the University of Illinois at Chicago or Northwestern, but we never see them in conference play and they compete in D-I. Instead, we need to increase the passion that our teams already have for the big game against WashU in order to make sure they beat them. Last year, WashU narrowly beat the women’s basketball team in the quarterfinals of the UAAs—an exceptionally devastating loss considering we had already beaten them on two separate occasions earlier in the year. Fired up now? Good.
Lastly, we need to act like D-I fans even though we live in a D-III world. Just because football won’t be playing against the University of Southern California or Ohio State University doesn’t mean we can’t have a tailgate or two. Taking a cue from state schools, sporting U of C clothing, hosting pre-games and after-parties, and learning school cheers are all ways that not only show good sportsmanship, but are also just downright fun.