SMITH: Vandy students need to show up for their athletes

Increased attendance can help better our team, boost spirit and provide a social outlet.


Emily Gonçalves

Vanderbilt fans contrasting with Georgia fans in their 2019 matchup. (Hustler Multimedia/Emily Gonçalves)

Nora Smith

Being a freshman at a D1 school, I have to say I expected a little more spirit in the stands. Our student football game attendance has been abysmal, and it definitely has to change. From a quick scan of the crowd on Saturday, Sept. 28, it seemed like we finally outnumbered the opposing team’s fans at the home football game against Northern Illinois, although the stands were still pretty bare overall. Granted, it was a game against a school from approximately 540 miles away that expected a loss, so it makes sense that their fans didn’t show. Nonetheless, it was a win for us because we outnumbered their fans and beat the other team, which is definitely more than we can say for any other game thus far.

It took us long enough. After the previous home game against Louisiana State University on Sept. 21, the Tennessean wrote an article commenting on our game attendance. They said that the ratio between fans from both teams at the LSU game was worse than it had been in past years, but they admitted that we aren’t to be blamed for not attending. We knew it wasn’t going to be a close game, so many people didn’t show up.

However, just because we had anticipated a loss doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have been there to support our team. Many potential recruits attend home games. If they don’t see the stands full of enthusiastic student fans, they won’t be encouraged to join the team, especially if they attend a game where our fans are outnumbered some 4 to 1, like at the LSU game.

If we want our team to improve, we need solid recruits, and a good way for the student body to influence recruitment would be to show up to the games with as much energy as possible.

As for the LSU game, we expected a loss, true, but it is possible that we could have helped decrease the gap between our score and that of UGA or LSU by showing up to support the team. In a study on Major League Baseball game attendance, researchers Erin Smith and Jon Groetzinger said that increased attendance by home team fans increased the likelihood of a win for the home team significantly. If more of us had attended the LSU and UGA games, it is possible that our scores could have been a little bit more similar to those of our opponents’.

Since the score gap isn’t as important to some fans, we should also consider school spirit. We can still be wildly enthusiastic, energetic and outgoing without high hopes for a win — even if we know it’s a stretch. Everyone knows Vandy students work hard and play hard, and after a long week of constant work, a little bit of play is much needed. What better way to take a break than to spend the morning supporting our very own football team? As reported by Medical Daily, attending sporting events increases a sense of unity and community because those watching the sport picture themselves as the athletes to an extent. An even greater sense of community and spirit is just within reach if we increase our game attendance.

Head coach Derek Mason knows it too. “This city’s hot, this school’s hot, and this football team’s got a chance to light the fire and make it hot, so let’s get it hot,” he said in a Hustler Sports 30 podcast. Let’s listen to him and get our stands as hot as possible. Seeing the stands packed, decked out in black and gold, bodies painted and those floppy “pom-pom” things in the air, would be amazing, and honestly, it would be fun to do too.

 I get that it isn’t always fun to watch your team lose. But, we can give back to our team, increase the quality of recruits and build a sense of community with other Commodore fans all while having fun. I hope to see our stands dripping in black and gold spirit at our next home game against University of Nevada Las Vegas on Saturday, as well as the others against  Missouri, Kentucky and East Tennessee. And who knows, we might even win again.