Practice school spirit if you want to preach it

It’s time for USF students to put up or shut up.

Since the publication of the Oracle’s March 30 column “A Bull wearing a Gators shirt is still a Bull,” by Allison Tiberia, the paper’s Web site – as well as USF athletics forum – has seen an outpouring of students posting angry comments in reply to Tiberia’s column.

In fact, the column in question received approximately four times the amount of views Oracle columns generally receive. It fostered at least 36 posts on the Oracle Web site, and at least 115 on TheBullsPen.Messages have varied in their degree of severity, some containing accusations that Tiberia is a “daddy’s girl,” as well as wishing she gets hit by a bus.

Being a member of the press, I have no problem with those who wish to post comments of this nature. After all, this is America, and freedom of speech is a right I treasure highly.

My problem lies with those students and alumni who don’t practice what they preach. If there are so many “general” Bulls supporters out there, it shouldn’t be so hard to fill the stands at basketball or baseball games.

Unfortunately, the majority of Bulls supporters only seem to back one activity: football.

For an athletic program this young to be part of the Big East conference is a privilege, not a right. Part of recruiting involves proving to players of any sport that their school rallies around them, whether they win or lose.

Yes, USF students are out there buying the T-shirts and coozies and proudly displaying the Bulls logo across their chest at school. But where are the people in the stands when the women’s basketball team wins, or the crowd surrounding Athletic Director Doug Woolard when the men’s tennis team names a new coach?

I’m not knocking the importance of a strong football program. Actually, I feel quite the contrary. I would even argue that one of the football team’s greatest assets is its returning fan base. When the student section roars after a touchdown or boos at the opposing team, it lifts the spirits of every USF?player on the field because it gives the team the feeling that they created something – something to be a part of and take ownership of.

If it feels even half as good as I can imagine, then there’s no reason USF’s hundreds of other athletes who play in the name of USF shouldn’t feel the same rush of excitement after a win. It’s hard to feel that way, though, when the only people in the stands are family members, close friends and talent scouts.

It’s time for many fans to put their money where their mouth is.

If Tiberia is in the wrong by wearing shirts affiliated with other universities, then those who choose to judge her decision should be rallying behind the more obvious issue of student apathy when it comes to USF sporting events.

However, organizations such as the Student Bulls Club and the USF Athletics Booster Club are making strides in the right direction. They seem to be some of the few clubs that make the group effort to have fans at the basketball games each week.And being a “general/all around” Bulls fan does not mean that students have to be merely sports fans.

Between the Monday Night Jazz Series, the University Lecture Series and activities hosted by the Campus Activities Board, many active students might be considered better Bulls supporters than those who just attend the football games.

It’s fine if students feel it’s wrong for someone to actively support another school’s team while on campus, but make sure you actually know what the meaning of support is, lest ye be judged a “traitor” yourself.

Suzanne Parks is a senior majoring in English literature.