As I was walking toward Stanford Stadium this last Saturday night for the very first time to watch the Cardinals take on the Arizona Wildcats, I heard a deafening sound as we approached that mimicked the horn of a 50-car locomotive.
I was not sure if the Cardinals had done something tremendously well, or if they were attempting to set off their opponent, but nonetheless, the sound itself was enough to send the game time atmosphere chills down my spine before I could even see the lights.
As it turns out, the horn is set off every time that Stanford scores a touchdown, meaning that we had just missed the first big play of the game. Little did I know that Stanford would eventually go on to beat the University of Arizona with a whooping score of 55-17, so I was still able to receive my fair dose of the eardrum-numbing sound throughout the remainder of the game.
Nonetheless, with this being my first Stanford football game and even with the lop-sided score, I was still extremely taken aback by the immense amount of pride that was displayed for all of the university’s athletics by its students.
Stanford University’s football program has only been prominent in the national scene these last five years, but along with the school’s already outstanding reputation as one of the top educational institutions in the nation, their athletics programs are also exemplified by the tremendous amount of pride by students, alumni and fans alike.
Take football for example.
Every Saturday home game generates a type of environment on campus of which is almost treated as a celebration, although it is only coming from the anticipation of the big game.
Whether the game is at 2 p.m. or 7 p.m., supporters of all kinds rush out to the stadium parking lots hours in advance to partake in pre-game festivities such as BBQing and playing games like washers or just playing catch (although most students are now sticking to beer pong.)
It is an atmosphere like this that gets students and fans enthusiastic about their school because it provides them with an outlet to be able to support their school’s athletic programs, while also having a great time in doing so.
These pre-game celebrations have attracted so much attention across the country within the last decade, ESPN now sends a crew of analysts to cover a different school each week to provide insight for the matchup depending on its significance. But now, the majority of the segment is dedicated to the hosting university being able to rally support from the rest of the country by showing off their various forms of school pride in front of millions of viewers.
A university’s pull factor towards students should be based primarily on their educational resources and not the social aspect, but when a school is able to provide excitement every given week when a certain sporting event is taking place, that can be an extremely appealing factor to attending that university.
Here at Sonoma State, were are ranked as a NCAA Division II university which means that we can only sponsor at least five sports for men and women alike, which certainly limits the amount of funding for each sport given the CSU’s current budget.
In 1996, Sonoma State was forced to eliminate the football program due to its financial restraint and because the school was more concerned for the future of its athletic program as a whole.
I know the budget situation has only grown to become much worse over the last twenty years and I am not asking for the football program to be re-instated, but if Sonoma State were to put more effort around supporting athletics by providing a medium for students to enjoy themselves when they go out to show their pride and attend the sporting events, it would serve as a major pull-factor compared to the other CSU’s.
Sonoma State is not even close to being as recognized as Stanford on a national level, especially with available resources, but if this school is able to exemplify its school pride and attempt to mirror some of the approaches that Stanford and many other major universities take when promoting its athletics, it would make for a much more inviting university for future students and athletes alike.