College football makes the world go round in my eyes, and every Saturday, I’m always a little saddened by the fact that I can’t cheer on my Gauchos down the sidelines. However, after three years of watching UCSB athletics, the environment at several men’s soccer games has eliminated my yearning to attend a football school.
But while I joined thousands on several occasions to cheer the Gauchos onto victory, something was always missing. The Santa Barbara soccer faithful have been perhaps the loudest and most recognizable twelfth man in the country recently, but the consistency of the crowd has not been there for every match. The decibel scale has been at deafening levels for some contests, but at times the crowd has been so nonexistent there was hardly any home field advantage.
While perusing the weekend’s college football television games and watching the legions of screaming fans at stadiums across the country, I realized exactly what UCSB needs to do to make Harder Stadium the place to be for all of us Gauchos: tailgating!
Oh, the possibilities. Imagine if Storke Field was transformed into a barbeque-littered monument to Gaucho pride. Alums and students could debate over who is the best player in program history, UCSB’s campus groups could stage rallies and other events to get the crowd pumped up, and most importantly, tailgating would provide an opportunity for Gaucho fans of every age to interact as one.
Allowing fans to tailgate on the field or parking lots around Harder Stadium would make coming to a soccer match into an event rather than just a game. Alumni would love to come hang out with their old buddies, enjoying a steak or two. Associated Students Program Board could help build an inviting atmosphere by scheduling acts to play outside of the stadium instead of inside the UCen. Plus, if the school allowed the consumption of alcohol and provided students a place to drink with a huge group of friends, they would come out in even greater numbers than before.
Winning the national championship last year was a uniting force for Gaucho fans, but what will happen when it’s been years since the last national title and the momentum caused by last year’s run fades? Talented UCSB teams will bring the fans in, but by crafting a game day experience for the entire campus, we can create something that will bring fans back again.
I know that I will be a lifelong Gaucho fan, but by making these matches more than just games, the school would only be increasing the likelihood that fans come back again and again. Right now, the men’s soccer team is the face of the athletic department, and making their events as good as can be should be their priority. Besides, I love to tailgate.