Promoting athletics is just the beginning
A flourishing athletic environment fosters campus culture and unites the community. Unfortunately, Rice’s lack of appreciation for university-wide athletics is evidenced by the low attendance at games, which strains relations with student athletes. Although promotions from Rice Athletics have certainly made strides towards improving attendance at games, marketing campaigns can only go so far, and they may not be sustainable (see p. 9). Improvements to Rice’s athletic environment should be driven by the student body as well as the faculty to encourage support for our athletic programs and build a stronger relationship between athletes and the rest of the undergraduate community.
Rice Athletics has taken clear steps to address Rice students’ apathy towards our athletic programs. Major promotional campaigns, incentives to win merchandise by attending games and Rice Rally’s approval as a blanket tax organization exemplify the focus on getting students to sporting events. However, despite the good intentions of Rice Athletics, these efforts have not been enough to significantly boost attendance across the majority of sports.
Rice students’ highest priorities are often their coursework and their residential college, so it is necessary for Rice Athletics to work within these current frameworks to target the greatest number of students. Even just a fundamental level of support from the university’s own faculty and staff would present a unified and supportive front and do wonders for the campus atmosphere. At the colleges, residential associates could organize group outings to games. Continuous reinforcement beyond the pep rally during Orientation Week is crucial to creating a dedicated community of fans and spectators.
To improve attendance in games and interest in athletics overall, students must be personally invested within the games. Why do intramural sports have such high turnout? Students attend because the players are their friends, and they are aware of the time commitment and stress of participating in these games. Many Rice students who are not athletes simply do not interact often with those who are. Students who are unaware of the stress athletes face and physical sacrifices they endure speculate whether athletes deserve their space at Rice. In turn, athletes become marginalized, alienated from the rest of the student body and often move off-campus to live with other athletes. Every single student at Rice deserves to be here, and athletes deserve just as much, if not more, respect for the work they do. It is necessary to encourage better relationships between athletes and non-athletes, beginning with O-Week but continuing beyond, to ensure that both groups understand and can empathize with each other.
Obviously, balancing a Rice workload and training throughout the year is a noteworthy task. We can’t ask more of athletes — but we can ask more of students. Even if it means attending just a portion of a game, or making more of an effort to accommodate athletes during O-Week. Action on behalf of the student body and a few innovative changes can make a serious contribution to our campus culture.
Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the Thresher editorial staff. All other opinion pieces represent solely the opinion of the piece’s author.
More from The Rice Thresher
Beware of dissenters, reinvestigate the real Israel
Israel is a special place and arguably the most misunderstood in the world. We will be celebrating Israel’s 75th birthday at Rice, commemorating the occasion with a conference hosted by the Baker Institute on April 27, 2023. It is important to understand that the Jewish connection to the land of Israel goes back thousands of years. Jews were always in this land before Israel was created. As I prepare to graduate, having founded a Students Supporting Israel chapter at Rice, I want students to be informed about Israel and Palestine. There are many people who spew misinformation and will not want to listen to facts because of the false narrative they love to believe.
Thank you for letting me tell your stories
If there is anything I will miss about college, it is the Thresher. No matter how many long nights or years of my life I have given to this paper, I have never grown tired of the Thresher. Maybe because of a superb staff that impresses me every day with their talent and dedication to good journalism or the unwavering support and friendship (and fist bumps) from my co-editor Ben Baker-Katz, but, I think most of all, it is the work I was able to do here.
Thresher holds the memories of a campus
For the last two years, whenever someone has tried to make plans with me on a Tuesday, I’ve responded with some version of “I can’t, I’ve got Thresher.” The natural next question, after I explain that putting together a weekly paper takes up the vast majority of every Tuesday, is “Why do you spend so much time on it?” And silly as it may seem, I’ve never really come up with a good answer to that question.
Please note All comments are eligible for publication by The Rice Thresher.