Student Athletics – To Support or Not to Support?

I came across a letter to the editor titled, Men’s basketball win reinforces UTA pride, while reading UTA’s student newspaper, The Shorthorn. The author and UTA alumnus, Jason Silva, explained how he graduated from the university in 2000, when support for student athletics was modest, at best. He recently attended the National Invitational Tournament quarterfinal on March 22 at College Park Center as the Mavericks played California State University Bakersfield’s Roadrunners.

Even though UTA lost by four points, Silva said he had never witnessed the athletic support so “boisterous and electric” and that he’s proud of how far the university has come since his days as a student.

Student and faculty support for UTA’s athletic teams has increased over the years, especially for Mavericks’ basketball, but President Vistasp Karbhari, along with other faculty, staff and coaches are continually motivating students to attend athletic events. I believe this was more difficult in Silva’s time as a student because UTA was more of a commuter school, but even now, UTA is ranked the third-largest destination in the nation for transfer students based on a U.S. News & World Report.

Speaking from my own experience as a transfer student, I’ll admit I’m not as interested in joining student athletics or attending games. I’ve played basketball, soccer, volleyball, track and field, etc. growing up. Also, from the stands, I’ve cheered and supported classmates and friends while attending Abilene Christian University. I’ve participated in and supported student athletics. And living on ACU’s campus made this conveniently accessible.

But at this time in my life, as a transfer student at UTA focusing solely on working almost full-time, while also attending school nearly full-time, I’ve dedicated myself to goals and doing whatever it takes to reach them. I’ve made sacrifices and this meant I would not ration my time to extracurricular activities on campus my final year as a college student. This, in no way, means I do not support my university’s sports teams or discourage attending their events. I’ve only come to terms with my need to create a healthy balance to achieve what I was capable of years ago at ACU.

After Silva’s article, discussion ensued between two readers–one of the two, a student whose username is belwar. Reading through his comment history, it’s easy to detect his habit of pessimistic opinions, but he made a point as to why he isn’t involved in student athletics, “I go to school to improve my job prospects.”

Every student has a reason for attending higher education–an athletic scholarship with hopes of playing professionally, to earn a degree to gain employment, to hone one’s skills and talent, to party or meet his or her future spouse. The list goes on. Student athletics is an essential staple in creating and maintaining a community and the business of a university. The second debater, cmore, responded to belwar, “Athletics is basically the public relations branch of a university.”

Supporting student athletics is vital for a university to thrive economically and socially. I don’t believe students who are lazy or apathetic should make excuses not to support their athletic teams. School pride, especially for athletics, is encouraging your fellow classmates who are chasing their goals and dreams as every other college student is attempting. It’s important to get involved at some point. I did years ago and created memories I’ll never forget. I support UTA student athletics and I’m proud to share with others that I’m a Maverick, but at this time in my life, I’m focusing on building my writing career instead of attending ball games. The players will still get a high five, pat on the back or words of encouragement from me.

And this is how I choose to support student athletics.

-JL Smith

Photograph source: http://www.utacollegepark.com/events/event.php?e=20160504-AllSportsBanquet

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