MIT Students Should Support Peers at Home Sporting Events

I’m a beaver. You’re a beaver. We are beavers all. And when we get together, we do the beaver call! E to the u, du dx, e to the x, dx. Cosine, secant, tangent, sine, 3.14159. Integral, radical, mu, dv. Slipstick, sliderule, MIT!

The “Beaver call” is supposed to inspire MIT athletes and spectators alike. Unfortunately, such cheering is nowhere to be found at MIT varsity events, unless you count teammates cheering for each other. You’re more likely to find side conversations, or worse, silence.

In my last column, I discussed the need for MIT students interested in sports to consider expectations. In this column, I’m going to explain my expectation of the student body regarding MIT teams. In a nutshell, there are plenty of sporting events, which MIT students typically don’t attend for plenty of reasons: problem sets, meetings, or just plain apathy.

Sorry, but that’s pathetic.

It’s true that every MIT student is busy. However, it’s also true that it’s embarrassing when the away team has more supporters than MIT teams. Hell, the away team usually has more parents attend than MIT has student fans. Here’s one more truth: MIT students are fabulous at procrastinating, or multi-tasking, or whatever you want to call it. The reality is that if you’re not constantly being productive, you have time to go watch a game or two instead of playing Halo or spending time on AIM.

Yeah, attending MIT games may be a switch for those of you used to huge crowds at Texas high school football games, where Friday night lights are front and center. It may be upsetting that we don’t always win.

Well, guess what? The complete lack of fan support obviously leads to scant attendance, which may then affect the outcome of games.

When MIT hosted the opening rounds of the 2006 NCAA volleyball tournament, the fan support was incredible. Four MIT guys decorated their bare chests with T, E, C, and H, while other students modeled hats of deconstructed volleyballs. The enthusiasm went beyond the attire, though — every spectator exhibited school pride in a way that should be characteristic of MIT sports fans, but too often isn’t. Fans yelled cheers, celebrated every Engineer point, and actually led a Beaver call.

Not coincidentally, the Engineer women reached the Sweet Sixteen, the round of the NCAA tournament when only 16 teams are left. Don’t get me wrong, their success should be attributed mostly to their skills and athleticism. However, the team clearly fed off of the high-energy atmosphere the fans created.

Perhaps you’re thinking that MIT Women’s Volleyball is a unique case in which the program is especially strong, so it would be a waste of your time to attend the games of MIT teams with losing records.

Before you make that snap judgment, though, consider the time your fellow students sacrifice for their sports. Preseason practices, usually two a day. Daily afternoon practices of at least two hours. Travel time to games. After all of their hard work, the least we should do is cheer them on. After all, none of them are receiving scholarships or cushy lifestyles because they play sports here — they simply love playing.

Furthermore, it would also be nice to unite in something other than IHTFP. (Freshmen, if you don’t know what that means, you’ll find out pretty quickly.) Our school spirit is unusual, to say the very least; we take pride in the Big Screw competition and all-nighters, but we won’t attend our school games.

I’ll leave you with a few final thoughts. On last year’s “101 Things to Do Before You Graduate,” a poster distributed during Orientation, one of the items was “Attend a Nobel Laureate lecture.” Think about attending your friend’s football game or swimming meet as a guest lecture in a 3-4 defense or backstroke technique. If you’re a sucker for sappiness, you can think about it as a guest lecture in friendship. Honestly, I don’t care what you think about it, so long as you show your support.

As an added bonus, you can probably talk your varsity athlete friends into attending your music recital, backyard barbecue, or whatever else you’re trying to recruit people for instead of spamming every dorm and FSILG forum. Ulterior motives, you say? Well, what do you call free food?