If you caught the intro piece to this new segment (if not, check it out here), I narrowed down some of the largest problems with the college culture here in Canada to 3 main things: Sports, Greek Life, and Music. In part 2 we will be taking a deeper look into why sports is such a fundamental part of the college experience. To begin, maybe you’ve seen this video:
I’m willing to bet that you wouldn’t be able to find the Canadian equivalent of this at ANY of the biggest schools down here (if I’m wrong, please link me in the comments). The sad part? The school chronicled in the video above is an American school with only 2,589 students. TOTAL. That’s barely twice the size of my high school, and the percent of students who show up to the sporting events in ridiculous. Not to be that Debbie Downer, but my school has 30000+ students, and we set a RECORD attendance this year at our Senior Night event, with roughly 3500. And believe me, as a fan of the team, the average attendance at the other regular season games is usually closer to 500-700 fans, if that.
(Above: A record setting CIS crowd)
“But Hosp, why are sports so important??”
Oh geez, I thought you’d never ask! Well, the reason why school sports are so important really comes down the amount of school spirit that is generated. It’s all really one big cycle:
Sports attendance → Better recruits → Winning teams →Traditions & Legacies → School Spirit → Right back to attendance at games
School spirit is a largely underutilized part of culture in Canada. Any D1 school in the states will sell out (yes sell, as in students will actually pay to see these games, not like the free games in Canada that we still don’t go to), students buy school gear, and students have something that connects them all. In a school with 30000 students it can be hard to find something in common with anyone, but when you ALL cheer for the same team, its makes starting a conversation that much easier. Just look at March Madness, and the excitement of the small schools that make it. Its not just the athletes, but the entire student body; Unparalleled truly.
Sports culture leads to school spirit, school pride, and a community to rally behind. And don’t think I’m ignoring the festivities surrounding these events. A tailgate party in Calgary will be luck to draw more than 30 people at any given game besides kickoff, and the after parties are often thrown by the team themselves because no one else feels like there is anything for them to really celebrate.
Obviously funding is everything, but while standing, recreating an awesome cheer, at my schools big game this year, with 3500 screaming fans around me, I wondered what it would be like if our big teams could maintain even a consistent 1500 each game. I know this won’t be an overnight thing, even an over the year thing, but maybe when I go see a CIS game in 10 years I’ll finally be able to see a group of fans that are genuinely excited to be cheering for their team. Until the NCAA eventually swallows the CIS whole and turns Canadian sports into the corporation that its become in the states, I don’t expect to see the kind of numbers they experience, but a little improvement is clearly possible.
(Looks fun, doesn’t it?)
Nike has been integrating fan-gear into many schools across Canada, which is a nice start, but it all starts with the students, and more importantly the leaders of these big schools. You know who you are. These are the residence leaders, student union leaders, popular kids, Sports captains, and anyone else who has a voice and a passion for their school. The ball is in your court (no pun intended, okay, maybe a bit), lets see what you can with it. If this means going out, buying a tee, and cheering for the schools least attended club team (S/O to Dinos Baseball) with a couple friends, then I encourage you to do it! Trust me, it can actually be a good time, and you will be helping make a difference at your school.
Anyways, enough whining for today. Next time I’ll look into greek life so keep it locked to RLGT for that!
Two words: one love,
-Head cheerleader Hospey