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Brandeis students should care more about sports

By Matthew Kowalyk

Section: Opinions

December 1, 2017

There has been a lot of talk among our campus’ student leadership over the past few months, mainly among the members of the Student Union and in some talks with administrators, concerning how to increase “school spirit.” There are ideas floating around about campus events, bigger discounts on Brandeis gear at the store, engagement with sports—overall trying to encourage students to do what students often do at schools with a more cohesive and lasting brand.

I have been harping on about this since 2015 in the first article I ever wrote for the opinions section, mainly plugging for the spirit band, now the MAD Band, for which I serve as Assistant Director. I stand by all of the arguments I made in that piece, including the fun, the fervor and the unity, and I am glad that there have been moves to attempt activities to encourage school spirit as mentioned previously. However, though I absolutely believe it is part of the solution, depending on the school alone to generate school spirit will take time and surely will seem inauthentic.

So many Brandeis students are not good at interacting with other people. I have decried and maybe slightly exaggerated the social and ideological bubble we may create for ourselves here, but it is interesting to I go off campus and see how some people interact with the real world. It used to confuse me to see Brandeis students act strangely to regular people in awkward exchanges at restaurants, with cashiers, soliciting help with a map, etc., and I cannot imagine what a splintered social structure would do to students who already have a tough time getting around in the world. Some of it is mental prejudice and becoming stuck in habitual worldview perpetuation, it is true, but it can be very hard to break.

That’s why we need people to like sports.

Some people at Brandeis do like sports. They are the athletes, primarily, and the small fan clubs that occupy the student section. I hear tales of a time when Brandeis had a stronger and more present student section at soccer and basketball games, yet for some reason it has gone away. It disappeared just before my class arrived, as I understand it. However, it should come back somehow, either through the efforts of Brandeis Athletics (which is doing a great job at encouraging students to show up with new initiatives), better advertising on the part of university communications, Student Union attendance (we’re doing our best) or the arbitrary actions of students who want to have more fun, cheer on fellow students and project a (probably) repressed need for competition onto those who make it the most interesting.

This could bind disparate social spheres together in a common environment and have at least something that we could call common ground. It’s a way to get out of your room and across South Street for something other than Mod activities. It is a way to blindly and fully support other people from Brandeis as they represent our athletic capacity. At least at basketball games, there often will be majorette dancers, a pep band and cheerleaders all working together to make it a good time. It is too bad so many people missed the men’s soccer team reach the Final Four, which should be available for streaming later on the day of this article’s publishing. Our teams are solid, making for a lot of fun at games.

I would follow the mantra of the “find-yourselfie” college student and try something new in this case. Just find a schedule taped to a wall somewhere, look online, download the We the Jury app that Athletics just released and find a game to attend. Sports are fun and God knows we need something to make us come together and be less sad around here. It may seem forced now, but I guarantee the long-term payoff would do more than just increase attendance numbers at games. It could be a real way to make Brandeis life fuller and happier, all while being together.

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