At the University of Texas (Austin), just three and a half hours south on I-35 from the University of Dallas, the University of Texas Longhorns routinely attract 100,000+ fans to every home football game. And even secondary NCAA sports, like basketball, baseball and soccer, receive significant interest.
Division-III schools are not immune from this support. For example, Hope College in Michigan averaged 2,818 fans per game during its 2010-2011 men’s basketball season.
In the meantime, the UD men’s team has averaged 361 fans per game thus far, its total attendance of 1,082 still below the average per game mark of other D-III schools. And while the Maher probably could not even hold 2,818 spectators, it certainly has room to support much larger crowds.
Furthermore, students have plenty of excuses for not attending: difficulty of classes, failures of many sports teams and more. But it’s about time they realize there are plenty of reasons to go as well.
1. The UD teams appear to be turning a corner.
The men’s basketball team has not retired a coach with a winning record in the modern era, but it currently boasts 14 new freshmen – as does the women’s soccer team, which nearly upset No. 3 Trinity in its season finale. The men’s baseball team is hoping to sustain momentum following a 25-14 2010-2011 season. UD is starting to field competitive teams, and it’s always fun to watch a good team do something great.
2. The Board of Directors thought it was important.
When UD was first founded, it had no athletic department. It was a highly controversial decision some years ago that determined that athletics were a necessary element of university life. The university board obviously puts considerable thought into making the best holistic experience possible for all of its students. They shouldn’t be trusted blindly, but the fact that they added an athletic department should make students think about why they did so.
3. We can build a community of support.
We all hear, throughout the country, about various student athletes and their special treatment from the university. For the athletes at UD, the opposite is almost true. Athletes cannot receive as much special tutoring and academic support because of the university’s ever-limited budget – and they still have to take the same classes as everyone else. They are held to higher, not lower, behavioral standards. All in all, being an athlete is a lot of work, and receiving some support can go a long way toward keeping that drive strong. Athletes should – and many do – reciprocate as well. But if the UD community is so integral to the university, it needs to include all aspects of student life, including athletics.
Of course there are more reasons to attend as well – and of course for every reason there is another homework assignment due. But if UD wants to be what it says it is – a university that guides its students to become leaders in their communities – it needs to support them as well.
If you do enjoy sports, it should be easy to make a lot of the games. And even if you don’t, consider stopping in once in a while. It’ll go a long way toward keeping the university thriving and the community inclusive.