On the Bench: Supporting NSU teams

I will be the first to admit that I have never been to an NSU women’s basketball game. Too often, I excuse myself because I’m too busy with classes or I don’t know of any friends attending the games.  But in the special excitement surrounding NSU’s recent historical win at the NCAA Division II South Region Championship, I have come to the realization that there really aren’t any valid excuses for neglecting our athletic teams.

Students of all types — undergraduate, graduate, commuter and residential —can find a way to support our athletic teams, and ultimately, our school. Many students use our Division II standing as an excuse to skip games. But in just the past few years, NSU athletics have made leaps in the collegiate sporting world. Not only did NSU have the honor of hosting its first ever NCAA national tournament this year, but the Shark’s won and advanced to the Elite Eight to compete in San Antonio, Texas.

NSU golf has also earned acclaim by winning championships at the Sunshine State Conference consistently. And Sharks’ swimming teams have garnered attention across the nation and even the world, with junior Esau Simpson’s participation in the 2012 Summer Olympics.

If anything, our Division II standing and small school size enables the NSU community to be more intimate and personal with our teams and athletes. We get the unique opportunity to root for amazing players from courtside seats and meet head coaches in line at Starbucks.

Many students have found that, unconsciously, the term “collegiate athletics” typically brings to mind male sports teams, especially football. Men’s football is a hallmark of many large, traditional American universities, and, moreover, male athletics dominate in professional and collegiate sports.

In fact, I have only attended NSU men’s basketball games. Maybe it’s coincidental, or maybe I am another perpetrator of the inaccurate stereotype that men’s sports are better sports.

NSU’s award-winning women’s teams have not only shattered that stereotype with their gold, silver and bronze hardware, but they also contribute a unique aspect to our college experience. NSU is not the typical American university and instead of trying to turn it into the University of Miami or UC Berkeley, students should take pride in its individuality.

Students at NSU should support athletic teams because when NSU hosts conferences that invite other universities from around the nation to compete, our school benefits by gaining visibility. Similarly, when our athletic teams travel, NSU and Shark pride goes with them, reaching prospective students in other states more effectively.

As NSU continues to grow tremendously, athletic teams are taking off and students must exemplify Shark pride. President George Hanbury said at a town hall meeting in January that students and faculty are truly what bring distinction to our school. With every win of an athletic team, theater cast and student researcher, an NSU degree grows in value.

So, it is not only imperative for students to support athletics, but also to applaud for performers in Premier Series productions of dance and theater, attend the Undergraduate Student Symposiums and participate in club fairs.

As a school of students with a multitude of strengths, our campus community will only become stronger as we recognize each other’s accomplishments.

The simplest way to strengthen the campus community and build a lifelong memory of your college experience is to be another fin in a sea of “Fins-Up!”s.

And if you do not know how a game is scored or do not follow sports, play “I spy” while you encourage your team. All that matters is that the stands are full and the cheers are loud enough to blow any opposing team away.

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