Editorial: Football attendance reflects lack of pride in achievement

Last week Baylor alumnus Garrett Golding wrote to the Lariat, voicing disappointment in the student body’s lack of attendance at home football games.

An accompanying infographic showed Baylor’s average home attendance of 40,639 ranked last in the conference, as did the average of 83 percent stadium capacity filled.

“This season and this team are truly special and deserving of far better,” Golding wrote.

Golding is right, and despite what many would describe as an embarrassing 55-28 loss to Texas A&M, the team still has a solid chance to make postseason play and keep the program progressing in the right direction.

It’s good when alumni continue to attend football games after graduation, and it’s equally beneficial when residents of Waco come to Floyd Casey Stadium to see the Bears.

But the essence of the team is, by definition, students. The team comprises student athletes, who go to class alongside their peers and use the same campus as every other student.

For Baylor to be a community of students, it is only fitting that students would make a community effort to support fellow students.

It’s the same support students show when they sell out the theater department’s productions or fill Common Grounds to see other students perform. They are acknowledging and commending exceptional talent with their attendance.

This year’s football program, like last year’s, is putting a competitive team on the field to a much higher degree than previous teams. No, the Bears are not yet a top 10 nationally ranked team. But compared to the past, their collective performance over the last two years has been exceptional.

Attendance at football games means more to the Baylor community than some students might think. For better or worse, athletics are a big part of a school’s branding.

This is not to cheapen or reduce the importance of education, which is Baylor’s first priority and exemplified by its 277 Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll members last year.

This is a way to show the country that Baylor can get behind an effort, one that might not be of the utmost interest to some of its students, and proudly support it.

In the Iowa State game, Baylor probably cringed at every panoramic shot taken by FSN’s cameras, which showed a sprinkling of fans on the student side and a woefully thin Baylor Line.

It’s simple: By the numbers, there are few, – if any – bigger ways for Baylor to represent itself as a family than with a packed, noisy stadium. Schools just don’t gather 50,000, 80,000 or 100,000 people on national television in any other way.

Because of this, students should highly consider giving up a few hours on three of their next seven weekends to root for the Bears in their three home games.