Even if you build it, will they come? Examining our university’s lack of school spirit

By Morgan Lewis

It’s a Friday evening at USD’s brand new $13 million dollar facility. The Toreros are hosting the conference rival Brigham Young University Cougars.

The stands are littered with fans that came to support one of the nation’s better baseball programs. Yet, among 600 or so people in attendance, about less than 100 of them are actual students.

This is a recurring theme for not only baseball, one of USD’s top programs, but for all the sports on campus. The lack of school spirit at USD does not seem to be an issue among students. School spirit is less than subpar here. While tickets are free for students and the home games are advertised around campus, attendance is usually very low. Even with impressive facilities and easy access around campus, it is hard to find many students that show any interest in how any one of the Torero athletic teams are performing.

Why is this the case? One argument is the lack of a big football program on campus. Even with the team’s recent success, including back-to-back league titles, students still do not seem to care. While the student body is not very large, that has not affected the success of other smaller schools.

Colleges like Stanford University and Texas Christian University are similar to USD in student body size, demonstrating that school size is not necessarily an issue for big time recruits.

While the Torero football program has had success on the 1-AA level, the school will not be able to take that next step until it gives scholarships.

Title IX prevents the football team to give any athletic scholarship to any player, no matter the circumstance. So without scholarships, the level of fanship will be an afterthought among students.

While the consensus on the lack of school spirit is well known among the student body, there is little discussion as to why the school does so little to improve enthusiasm for athletics. When asked about the issue, the opinions varied among students.

“So many students live so far from campus,” senior Ian Cruz said. “I can see why it is so difficult for students to want to show up to sporting events and leave their amazing beach houses.”
Junior Katherine Baker concurred, also pointing to the issue of a predominantly off-campus student body.

“Too many people live off campus,” said Baker. “At other schools with big time athletics, students can just walk to sporting events.”

While the argument about students living off-campus is valid, it is important to note that drinking is prohibited at all sporting events. Many fans associate major sporting events with tailgating and with tailgating comes large quantities of beer drinking.

While it is important to promote responsible drinking habits, the lack of any alcoholic beverages at all athletic events makes it less appealing to students, as senior Bryan Kiernan was quick to note.

“What 21 year old doesn’t enjoy a beer at the game, regardless of the sport?” Kiernan asked rhetorically. “It may not fill all the seats, but it would definitely have a positive influence on attendance.”
While students are aware of the lack of school spirit, it is not a priority for most incoming freshman to be involved in supporting USD athletics.

Whether the problem lies in the off-campus living arrangements, or the fact that beer is not served at games, students remain unlikely to participate in any sporting event, keeping Torero athletics an afterthought.