There’s more to USC athletics than football.
Football is and has always been king at USC. The football team is a perennial contender for the BCS National Championship year in and year out, and it deservedly receives the most attention, considering the national popularity of the sport.
The problem is that attendance lacks in just about every other sport at USC.
With all the attention the Trojan football team garners, it is easy to overlook the successes of USC’s other sports teams. In 2011, the USC men’s tennis team locked up its third straight NCAA title, while the men’s water polo team earned its fourth straight national championship. The USC women’s volleyball team also earned a spot in the NCAA Final Four, where it fell short of advancing to the championship game.
Many of USC’s athletic programs and athletes achieve great successes, but they do so with little fanfare, as student attendance struggles for many of the less popular sports.
Why is attendance struggling? Some people might point to the fair-weather L.A. sports fan argument, but that doesn’t fly — we have consistently top-ranked teams that are competing for national championships. The problem stems from the culture and tradition surrounding USC athletics as a whole.
Understandably, football has always been the primary emphasis because it drives revenues for the athletic department and helps fund other sports. But these other sports have been overshadowed in the process.
We must attempt to change the culture and tradition surrounding USC athletics and increase student support for sports aside from football.
USC’s athletic marketing department has attempted to address student attendance at athletic competitions through its Trojan Fever Loyalty Program, in which students earn points and win prizes for attending various sporting events. Free food and various giveaways (cups, bobbleheads, etc.) have also been used to increase attendance, and large boards have been strategically placed around campus to alert students of athletic event start times.
Admittedly, I am a student who has never attended a USC sporting event aside from football games and a couple of men’s basketball games. I take responsibility for my lack of support and will make a conscious effort to attend more athletic events in the future. I urge all students to do the same.
The athletic department is certainly doing its part to entice students to attend sporting events and improve the fan experience, but it is up to us to attend games and support our fellow Trojans. Fight On!