Colorado Mesa University athletics often provide the best illustration of our university to outside viewers. And, right now, the Mavericks have a quantity, as well as a quality, problem with our fans in attendance at sporting events.
Go attend a CMU football game. Look across the field to the student section and observe what is the CMU student body. What do you see? Nothing impressive to say the least.
CMU students supposedly pride themselves on their school spirit and support for their athletic teams, who are yearly one of the best athletic programs in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. Yet, only 3,619 fans on average have attended home football games this season, and these numbers include not just students, but Grand Junction locals who generally seem to be the majority.
And, it is important to recognize that many of these fans, local and student alike, leave the game by the end of the first quarter or half-time.
A university with the size and talent pool of CMU should be competing with the likes of Colorado State University-Pueblo, whose average season attendance for football games is 5,595 despite playing in a stadium that seats 1,500 fewer people than Stocker Stadium.
We want the opposing team’s legs trembling when they see the size of our student section at any of our athletic events.
However, the behavior of the students who do make it to the games reveals a greater quality issue with game attendance as well. Prior to the start of every athletic event on CMU’s campus, a sportsmanship code is read:
“We take pride in the conduct of the student-athletes and coaches, and ask everyone—coaches, athletes and spectators—to treat opponents and officials with respect. We encourage you to cheer for your favorite team during tonight’s competition. At the same time, please demonstrate to our guests the respect we would like to be shown as visitors on their campus. Unruly, threatening or obscene behavior will not be condoned at tonight’s game.”
Despite the sportsmanship code, claims of targeting single players on opposing teams, derogatory language and disrespect toward opposing fans from our student sections have all been made in previous years.
We, as Mavericks, should be living up to the expectation that we set for our guests on campus.
There is a difference between being a passionate fan at a sporting event and being an unruly one. We understand this is a college sports environment and we want you to be involved and animated during the game.
But, why does our student section need to start chanting “bullshit” when the referee makes a questionable call against the Mavericks?
Why do students feel the need to continually berate and scream at one particular player during the entire match just because of a missed a catch on the first drive, a unique haircut or their height?
The problem with CMU fans demonstrating less-than-sportsmanlike conduct is not new to the 2017/2018 athletic season. During a men’s soccer game last season, players were reportedly singled out and taunted due to their ethnicities. A derogatory comment similar to “your mother didn’t love you and that is why she sent you across the world” was overheard by some fans in attendance.
What our fans have to remember is they are the ones representing our school. Potential students, opposing families, recruiters and people in the community all attend our sporting events. And when they see and hear things from our student section that do not align with the sportsmanship code, it looks bad upon not just fans themselves, but the university they are there to represent.
We want our students at our sporting events, and we want them to cheer on the Mavericks to victory. But we want them to do it in a respectful way that “demonstrates to our guests the respect we would like to be shown on visitors on their campus.”
We want our students to show visitors just how great Mavericks can be. So come out and support your CMU athletic teams. Just do it in a way that makes others think “I want to be a Maverick, too.”