Proud to be plaid?

The stands at Carnegie Mellon home football games are often left unfilled, and the limited number of fans who do attend to show their support lack the body paint, passionate chants, and exciting vibe of a rowdy crowd. Instead, our athletic events tend to be somewhat lackluster, exactly the opposite of what sporting events should be.

At a school known for its excellence in academics, it is not necessarily surprising that a strong following of athletics has not developed. Speaking with students from various backgrounds, there is a clear sense of indifference toward the Tartan sports teams. Most students contribute their attitude to lack of time available to follow and support those teams. An equally popular opinion is the lack of excitement surrounding sporting events among the student body.

“In addition to the amount of school work I get, it’s really hard to get excited for games when there is not much school spirit at this university,” said Andrew Yi, a sophomore electrical and computer engineer.

“I’m so busy with classes and work that I really don’t have time to watch much sports,” echoed Tye Wang, a junior computer science major. “Sure, it’s my school, but there is a limit. It also doesn’t help that there aren’t a lot of people on the stands and games here aren’t hyped up.”

Despite the status quo of dismal passion among the student body, many wish to see students rally behind the sports teams. Students are generally aware of when games are scheduled but small buzz around the events doesn’t excite people enough to show support for the Tartans.

“Everyone on campus is involved in their own activities, whether academic or sports related, and we tend to support those with our interests. The campus should look to move toward a more united front and an integrated campus community,” said junior volleyball player Cara Fatigati. “I think school spirit is a campus wide issue, not only at athletic events; we need to branch out and show support to all school sponsored events.”

Changing our perception of sports teams and sporting events can go a long way toward establishing such an environment. Recently, a glimpse of what this school would be like if we embraced our athletic teams was seen during Homecoming weekend. This highly publicized weekend had several events throughout the week leading up to a nationally televised football game on FSN. On game day, the annual Carnegie Clan Chili Cook-off drew students and alumni to campus, and spirited tailgating events sponsored by the Clan kept up the hype around campus. Despite the football team’s loss to Wittenberg University, many spectators enjoyed the overall game experience.
Coming from a magnet high school, I am familiar with the effects of academic pressure, as I’m sure all of us who have been accepted here are. During my four years of high school, the football team was average, but the student body still rooted strongly. I think a similar environment would add greatly to the college experience. In the end we want to support our teams and increase school spirit, but we need reasons to show up to these events. We need to be able to expect games to be exciting, with a huge, rowdy crowd in the stands regardless of final event’s outcome.

Carnegie Mellon needs to have more school spirit to change the community’s perception of the teams in order to improve school morale, attract a more diverse student applicant body, increase incentives to develop the athletic facilities and funding, and generate a greater connection to Carnegie Mellon for current students as well as alumni. If school spirit for athletics improves, school spirit for all other aspects of Carnegie Mellon life will as well. Students, faculty, and staff will have a closer bond with the university as a whole, which will inevitably help perpetuate success in the future in all aspects of the community.