Campus sports culture eludes students

Campus sports culture eludes students

Graphic by Tam Duong Jr./The Pioneer

Louis LaVenture,

Every year I watch the NCAA men’s basketball tournament commonly known as ‘March Madness.’ This consists of 68 NCAA Division I basketball teams competing in a winner-take-all; one loss and you are out tournament to determine a national champion.

My eyes always drift towards the fans during the game. Teenage and twenty-something college students often with their shirts off, covered in paint of their school colors and screaming in support of their team like it is the most important thing in the world.

Then I get sad, because I realize I will never have this experience in college.

I transferred to East Bay from Ohlone College in Fremont, which are both great schools, but not known for their sporting dominance. Both of my colleges do not have football teams either; CSUEB hasn’t had a team since 1993 and Ohlone team was dismantled after the 1982 season. Both schools have confirmed the primary reasons include the lack of funding as well as Title XI requirements. Title XI requires a school to have an equal number of spots for women and men, since football rosters reach up to 70 plus people, it would be almost financially impossible to add that many women’s sports to balance the opportunities.

All legalities aside, I always wanted to meet up with friends, get decked out in school gear and walk over to the 70,000 plus seat stadium to cheer on our student athletes that represent us.

However, for students at a school like East Bay, an NCAA Division II institution, the school spirit just isn’t there. Maybe it is because we are a commuter school where the majority of students come to class and leave after. According to the NCAA, at traditional schools, which boast big-time sports programs, tens of thousands of students live on campus and games are rites of passage, not just sporting events. According to CSU Mentor, at East Bay there are currently 15,528 students and just 15 percent of them live on campus.

At East Bay, on a good day, there are about 100 people at a game, and that is considered a big crowd. A far cry from the tens of thousands that big schools like Stanford and Cal draw to their football and basketball games on a regular basis.

As I watched the men’s college basketball national championship game on Monday that saw North Carolina defeat Gonzaga, I was reminded again of the missing part of my college experience. They showed a remote camera feed of the Dean Dome during the telecast, which is the home court of the North Carolina Tarheels. It was packed, not an empty seat, full of 20,000 plus students dressed in powder blue and white, jumping, screaming, yelling and cheering on their team as they watched the game on monitors.

These fans are so obsessed with their team they showed up to an arena to watch their players on television screens. More people attended the viewing than attend CSUEB total.

Their gym was sold out and the team was all the way across the country. This is something I will never get to experience and sure it sucks, but more so it makes my college experience incomplete. As an older student who didn’t live in the dorms, school is a job, not an experience. I don’t have the luxury of going to the big game on Friday night with friends, I work instead.

But I would still love to have that option. The choice to go to a game with thousands of rabid, like-minded students from the same university and bond through a collective devotion to our sports teams that represent us and help create our college identities.