Empty stands show lack of Wildcat pride

Sports writer Lars Gustafson

Chico State has exceptional sports teams, but many high school seniors choose to come here to party and drink.

The problem is the party culture at Chico State.

From my experience, many students would rather play beer pong than go watch a basketball game on a Friday night.

Meanwhile, men’s basketball is having a great season and shattering records. The team is also the top seed headed into the conference playoffs.

Chico State’s reputation as a party school shouldn’t interfere with students supporting the school’s athletic programs.

Big and small colleges with the reputation of being party schools still value their sports teams and fill the stands almost every time.

A few examples would be Division I schools like USC and Arizona State University, as well as smaller universities like Nebraska and Clemson.

A typical California high school senior who is a sports fan may see Chico State not having a football team as a negative. Football creates a fan culture that drives attendance up for all of the school’s sports teams.

But I’m not saying that we need a football team to make our student body care about athletic programs more. I’m saying we need to change how we care about representing our school as Wildcats.

It seems hypocritical that some students wear Chico State Wildcat apparel, but they don’t support our athletes.

With increased support from fraternities and sororities, 100 more students attended men’s and women’s basketball games this season than in 2014. Greek life has led the charge in increasing student attendance and support for athletics.

However, some sports are neglected.

Baseball, softball, track and field, and cross-country have had minimal student support.

A recent softball game had only about 20 people in attendance.

These Wildcat teams have some amazing athletes that work their asses off all year to represent Chico State.

Where are the fans supporting these teams and athletes?

Our baseball team is currently one of the best teams in the conference with Andrew Carrillo batting an astounding .567. Jordan Semple currently holds three Chico State basketball records.

Students have the opportunity to witness amazing athletes making spectacular plays, but would rather partake in other “extracurricular activities.”

Being at a smaller school, it’s not like students at Chico State have never met or interacted with our athletes. More likely than not, they have shared a classroom with someone who plays for the school.

At Chico State you get the opportunity to interact with players like Semple and Carrillo on a personal level, and that is an experience not many get to have.

College students that don’t attend a single Wildcat sporting event in their time at Chico State are depriving themselves of a complete college experience.

An overtime basketball game or an extra-innings softball game stirs that emotion and love for Wildcat athletics for the fans in the community.

As Chico State students, the least we can do is support these teams that represent us as Wildcats on basketball courts, tracks, cross-country trails, baseball and softball diamonds, golf courses and soccer fields.

Lars Gustafson can be reached at [email protected] or @larsonsports on Twitter.