I am sick and tired of being able to spread out in the bleachers at the Yale Bowl.
At a time when pockets of our university are seemingly ablaze with activism — ranging from student-run voter drives to campus-wide emails demanding student representation in the presidential search — I want to propose enacting change that everyone can stand behind. It is fun, builds school spirit and unity, and won’t take up too much of your precious time.
It is time to change Yale athletics for the better. The way to make this change is simple. Show up to sporting events and prove we care.
I’m not going to use this space to try and convince you why this university needs to redouble its efforts to improve our athletic teams and support the dedication and success of those athletes already on campus. Other columnists have made that case, convincingly, I would argue.
There are lots of ways that we can go about trying to effect change to athletics policy. We can push the presidential search route: fill out surveys, file complaints and requests with intermediaries and email Ed Bass ’67 ARC ’72 with some sort of hope that our voices will be heard. We can lament to our friends that our administrators need to let in more athletes and put more of an emphasis on athletics. But I have doubts about the efficacy of these methods. A single voice can fade away, but the roar of a crowd echoes and lingers.
If we want Yale Bulldogs in all sports to take trophies and glory away from our rivals in Cambridge and Princeton, there’s really only one thing we students can do: fill the stands with our bodies and the air with our voices.
As it stands, attendance at most sporting events — with contests against Harvard and many hockey games as notable exceptions — is paltry, and that might be too nice of a description. The message that these empty seats send to the administration is one that they have clearly heard: we don’t care about sports, so they shouldn’t either. We don’t care if we win, go undefeated or winless, so they won’t care. We don’t need to change athletic policy here, so they shouldn’t.
If we want better teams, we need to show our administrators that we want to be able to wear a Yale “insert-sport-here” t-shirt with pride, light up scoreboards and support teams in championship games and NCAA tournaments. We need to show up.
Even if you don’t care about athletic policy, show up. Your friends are the ones on the field. Your classmates, suitemates, study buddies, Big Sibs and romantic interests are there. Each time they put on a Yale jersey, they represent us — each time we take the time to be Yale fans, we represent them. We can help validate their 8 a.m. lifts, missed meals and long bus rides.
Show some school spirit. Paint your face. Lose your voice. You’re not just a student; you’re a Yale student.
Make time for each team, whether they’re on a winning streak or whether they’re stuck in last place. Break the vicious cycle of fair-weather fandom. Cheer so loudly that you make some noise in Woodbridge Hall. And, as you’ll learn, it’s really fun to be in the middle of a rowdy, shouting mass. Your heart fills with pride when we score a goal, it sinks when we miss that crucial first down by inches. There’s an unbeatable camaraderie that exists, even if temporarily, within a group united in support of the blue and white.
That sense of community alone won’t convince the administration to change their athletics-suppressing policies, but it will send the message that we students really do care, that we want to see change.
Andrew Sobotka is a sophomore in Jonathan Edwards College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .