Any fan following UCSB athletics over the past few years had to be curious leading up to the men’s volleyball team’s Mountain Pacific Sports Federation quarterfinal match last Saturday. Would the volleyball team welcome the same raucous crowd that has graced Harder Stadium’s stands – especially in the postseason – over the past few years? Or would Gaucho fans leave the volleyball program in the cold and extend the 4/20 celebration into Saturday evening? Well the Gauchos are moving on – with a big thanks owed to the fans, yet again.
There are several things higher on the priority list than attending school sporting events in the minds of many of us Gauchos. Many of the big-time games fall on Saturday evenings, and when event staffers aren’t tackling people, they sure are making it difficult to get inebriated in the stands. I’ll go to a game, booze or no booze, but the same can’t be said for the majority of UCSB students, who can’t wait until 9 or 10 p.m. to get the party started. Several games are on Thursdays, a day where the upper-half of the student body is too busy touring State Street to show their fan appreciation, further dwindling the bodies in the stands
Despite these clear difficulties, Gaucho fans have supported their teams when it matters most. Some may argue that this is a problem and that fans should come out for their team regardless of the product on display. But that just isn’t in our make up now is it? Yes, many students are choosing the beach over a day baseball game, and a random hookup on a rainy night over basketball, but if the stakes are high enough the Gauchos lend their full support.
Take the men’s soccer team. For at least the past three years, the quality of soccer has been perhaps the best in the nation. The fans are not oblivious and have turned out to show their support. When a community that puts athletics on the back burner can turn out in such numbers as to gain notoriety across the nation, you know the fans are doing their job. Heck, we even tore the place up when our team was halfway across the country.
The fun doesn’t just stop with the soccer team. The fans were there while the men’s basketball team was riding high in mid-January, until they jumped ship as the season started to go south. But who can blame them when there is a beach to go chill at? This brings us back to volleyball. Rob Gym is quite cozy, and the 1,157 fans on hand played a bigger role in UCLA’s 34 attack errors than the Gaucho defense.
The point is that the fans turn up because of the quality of the product on display. Its not the bungee-basketball games at halftime, T-shirt giveaways or puzzles during timeouts that get high turnouts – although it was pretty amazing when that old guy nearly made the $10,000 putt. It just takes a high quality event to get the average Gaucho in the seats. Given all our other entertainment options, I have no problem with that.