Editorial: A student fan culture on the rise

Last week, the Sojka Psychos unveiled a new branding effort for the 2017-2018 basketball season. The program is aimed at increasing student participation in athletic events, particularly home games for the men’s and women’s teams, who play in Sojka Pavilion.

In the first three days of the campaign, 150 people signed up to be official members of the student section. Could student fan culture be on the rise? In answering, we should reiterate the central question that gets to the heart of athletic attendance issues: why don’t students show up?

While we praise the balance that the University has between academics and athletics, some of us feel that our mentality as students may still be a prioritization of academic extracurriculars over athletic ones. University students just do not make time for sporting events. As one member of our editorial board put it, “Why see a sporting event, even a Patriot League Championship, when you can go see Bill Nye or Anderson Cooper? Or, why see a sporting event when you can do work in order to make time for Bill Nye or Anderson Cooper?”

It is frequently heard, even joked about, that more Lewisburg residents show up to games than current students. What students may not realize is that packing our student section would do more than just hype up our sports teams and look good on nationally-televised games. An engaged student section reflects well on the University as a whole; it reinforces students’ commitment to supporting their peers, and their pride in representing their University.

If students want a riled-up student section, they should show up to games, because that is the first step to making such a student section a reality. 

Some members of our editorial board expressed disappointment in the prestige they believed sports had at the University versus the percent of the student population that actually attends athletics events. With that being said, students should still take Bucknell Athletics’ programs as seriously as they might have before enrolling in the University.

Time and time again, we talk to student athletes about the impact that lively crowds can have on a player’s excitement, mood, and yes, their performance. When fans show up, players react and drive home results.

Even last year’s student section for the men’s basketball team, which clinched the Patriot League Championship and competed in the first round of March Madness against WVU, was short-lived and late in the game, considering the program’s successes all season. We see even this week that the Bison Women’s Soccer Class of 2018 just became the winningest class in women’s soccer history; so why doesn’t athletic success, dare we say dominance, correspond to better attendance?

One potential avenue for reinvigorating the Sojka Psychos would be to engage the Greek community. Events like Dance Marathon and Relay for Life have typically had mild success in activating Greek community participation, but it seems that there has rarely been a University-wide effort (among students) to invest and commit fully to Patriot League sports. One rare exception was in the mid-2000s, when the Sojka Psychos program originated. For example, soccer player Joey Kuterbach ’08 led the student section that cheered on teams that upset Kansas and Arkansas in March Madness tournaments.

There are exceptions, though. Other members of our editorial board reiterated their personal love for University sports, and pride themselves on being at almost every home game, sitting in the first few rows, and screaming their heads off to cheer on our team.

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