I never had much school spirit in high school. I always wished my friends the best of luck at their games and meets, yes, but I rarely attended them. I’d go to most of the football games on Friday nights, mainly to socialize and because it was what everyone else did, but I could also skip them and not feel any FOMO.
Perhaps it was because I just wanted to do my four years and get out, whether or not the soccer team won against our rival school didn’t make much difference to me. When I came to the University of Florida, however, my feelings towards my school’s sporting events shifted.
There is nothing like a game day (that is, a football game day) in the Swamp. Gators and visitors alike can’t deny it. The energy is through the roof from the moment you wake up. Every single game day, whether it was a morning or a night game, my roommates and I would wake up at 8:30 a.m., run down the halls of our sorority house, bang on the doors of every girl’s room and wake them up by blasting “All I Do Is Win” on a speaker and shouting, “IT’S GAME DAY.”
There was never a game day when I woke up and thought, “Yeah, I think I’m gonna skip this one.” Did this mean that I had become someone with school spirit?
I might have acquired “school spirit” in the twisted sense that I live for tailgating in the middle of the day, skipping to the stadium and continuing to socialize at the football game. On the other hand, I usually don’t pay much attention to the game itself (other than when I hear cheering and join in). I am almost always looking at the scoreboard, counting down the seconds until I can get out of the blazing sun, lay down in air-conditioning and order pokey sticks. I have never even stayed past halftime, much less long enough to sing “We Are The Boys.” There, I said it.
So yes, I love everything that football game days bring but maybe not the actual sporting event itself. In my effort to do more things this semester that don’t involve going out, however, I have recently made it a priority to try to attend sporting events other than just football games and actually… watch them. I know, I know – what a concept, right?
It started when my friends decided we should go to a gymnastics meet on a night that we had nothing to do. I used to be a gymnast myself, I’ve always thought they were fun to watch, and I had nothing better to do, so why not?
To my surprise, I not only stayed the entire meet, but I also wasn’t counting down the time until it was over; I was enjoying it. The scores were extremely close throughout the meet, and when it came down to the last girl on each team performing on floor and on beam, I was sitting on the edge of my seat. I could feel our gymnasts’ desire to win, and it made me want them to win.
Even though we lost, I had a newfound appreciation for sporting events at my school that weren’t revolved around drinking. Maybe it’s just me trying to have fun at activities that don’t involve going out, or maybe it’s just my crazy love for this school, but attending my first college sporting event that wasn’t football made me want to spread the knowledge that this is something more students should be doing.
While I’ve never understood how college athletes are willing to sign their life away to a sport, I can’t deny that their talent and dedication is admirable. Just by watching the gymnasts cheering on their teammates on the sidelines or by watching their pure excitement after killing their routines, you can feel the school spirit all around you.
In my not-so-humble opinion, we go to one of the best schools in the nation with the best student body, many of which are student athletes. So if you love your school, I think you have an obligation to support your fellow students, and athletes are included in that. It will make you appreciate UF even more.
Football is not the only sport that should be regarded at the University of Florida. All other sports should receive your support, too. Not only will it help you achieve maximum school spirit, but also, some of the other sports actually win more than football (sorry, not sorry), AND they’re free to attend.
So, what are we waiting for? Maybe I’ll stay at a football game long enough to sing “We Are The Boys” next season, but for now, I’ll just cheer on the gymnasts, basketball players, swimmers and everyone in between.