Student athletes are underappreciated by student body

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The gold team takes the field for the spring game. Photo by: Makayla Puckett

Picture this: an empty calendar. There are ten months’ worth of empty white squares awaiting potential plans. The options are endless for what events could pass the school year along. Now picture another calendar, where each of those previously mentioned empty squares are overflowing with responsibilities. In fact, just a daily calendar is insufficient. Hour by hour, minute by minute a schedule is set.

The first calendar mentioned belongs to most students starting the school year. The second belongs to most student-athletes. With 5 a.m. workouts, class, conditioning, study hall, practice, team meetings and games each minute of their day is consumed. The problem with the first calendar is the disregard for the second.

The lack of student support of athletics at Southern Miss is apparent. While there could be several reasons for the nearly empty student section on game days, a large factor is how student organizations on campus schedule events at the same time as athletic events.

A prime example would be April 5-7 of this year when there were a total of eight opportunities for students to support the Golden Eagles; however, there were also fraternity and sorority life events happening that same weekend which hindered game attendance. These events were clearly planned without consulting the sports schedules that are set months in advance.

While it would be extremely difficult to plan around every contest, it is possible to avoid holding events at the same time as rivalry games or weekends that are important for the athletic programs on campus. Some instances cannot be helped such as when the women’s basketball team hosted two games in postseason play. These games were scheduled last minute, but the student section looked the same as it did for every other game: non-existent.

Student-athletes at Southern Miss deserve support and recognition for the hard work they put into representing our school on and off the field. This should come not only from administration, fans and alumni but also from current students. If fraternities and sororities can support each other why can’t students support student-athletes? Why can’t Southern Miss cultivate an attitude of pride around its athletic department?

Looking back on four years worth of little white boxes where not one of them included a football game could mean missing out on watching the next Brett Favre play in his prime. It could mean missing an opportunity to rally behind classmates to be a part of something bigger. It’s not just a baseball game–it’s the energy that drives Southern Miss.

Athletes feed off of energy. If just one-eighth or one-sixteenth of the 14,730 students who attend Southern Miss would attend any athletic events, it would give these student-athletes that much more to play for. Southern Miss is capable of developing a culture of winning, but believe it or not, a part of that culture includes the fans.