Being a cheerleader means many things: interacting with the community, being positive role models and getting the crowd to cheer on its team. When cheerleaders fantasize about school spirit, we see the bright lights that fade out the crowd. We know the crowd is packed because we can hear the excitement. The crowd wears our school colors and repeats what we yell. Our eyes adjust to the lights and we see the fans painted blue with the letters N S U painted on the chests of the fraternity guys who are front and center.
Alcohol probably fuels their enthusiasm, but we don’t care. Our school spirit is exploding through the gym as the team runs out onto the court. Then, as we walk out to stand for the national anthem, reality masks our fantasy. The fans are not painted blue and their faces are lit up with the light from their phone screens.
I have been on the cheer team since my first year at NSU. The turnout for basketball games usually results in about four away team fans to our one Shark fan. I have even had classmates say, “Wait. . . Nova has a cheer team?” Don’t get me wrong, we appreciate the fans we do have. But, with over 4,000 undergrad students, it’s reasonable to expect more than a handful would have some school spirit and attend the games.
Attending games might not seem like a big deal now, but a few years from now it will be. Having a “college experience” is important. When our kids are older, they will want to hear stories of things we did in college, like that time we bonded with our roommate, who is now like an uncle to them. We can tell them about the Miami Dolphins being treated like our home football team and how amazing the tailgates leading up to their games were.
Maybe the undergraduate population doesn’t know NSU has 17 sports teams. Between the cheerleaders, Sharkettes and pep band, it’s easy to stay entertained. It may seem like just a game, but it’s more of an experience. Win or lose, you will make memories with the people around you.
So, the next time you hear a fellow Shark say, “Man, Nova’s school spirit stinks,” politely reply “Well, let’s do something about it.” If everyone has a mindset that we have the power to make it better, then it will happen. Instead of shooting freshman down for getting excited at a soccer game, we should be jealous that they are showing the upperclassmen how it’s done. We make our own spirit, and it can all be improved with more participation. Before we know it, we may all be doing the wave at a basketball game.