Student support fosters better play, stronger community

Matthew Ahasay, Opinion Editor

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It’s a Wednesday night in the Pioneer Athletic Center, and the men’s basketball team leaves Bo Ryan Court down 33-20 at half time during the first round of the WIAC playoffs.  643 people occupy the stands, the majority of which have donned their Platteville attire in support of the Pioneers.

While the scene would be considered visually normal, the audible presence of the crowd is anything but. The arena is dominated by the cheers and jeers of the visiting team’s fans and the teams are performing as such.

At the University of Wisconsin Platteville, we are fortunate to be able to attend sporting events with little or no cost involved.  Even for a playoff game, it costs a menial three dollars to see our colleagues play and represents our school on a large scale.

Logistics even favor the Pioneers and their fans.  Our intimate campus gives students living on or around campus the ability to attend games with little or no commute or transit time.

Attendance at athletic events is about so much more than just cheering fellow students on to victory.  It gives students and faculty a sense of community, belonging and enjoyment – vital emotions to members of a school widely considered a “suitcase campus.”

A study conducted at Indiana University focused on how the student body relates to each other and the campus through collegiate athletics.

According to the study, “As students attend more athletic events and become more involved outside of the classroom, their learning environment is likely to improve.”

In addition, the study found students who frequent sporting events have a stronger connection to the school and will return to support the team as alumni — increasing the fan base and donations of both athletic and academic nature.

Everyone wants to see a winning team.  In fact, it is the most dominant factor in determining attendance at college sporting events.  When attendance is increased, especially that of students, an electric atmosphere is developed that spurs on the home team, creating the notorious home-field advantage.

Student athletes at UW-Platteville can attest to the power of a strong, loud and proud fan base.

“When people cheer it gives you a burst of confidence,” said sophemore soccer forward Katie Viney.  “It’s a great feeling knowing that people are there to support you and that you are positively representing your school.”

Half time is over and the teams return to the court, this time with the crowd backing the Pioneers after a display of school pride effectively firing up the crowd. The students are on their feet cheering and chanting.

As Rob Stallion steals the ball and scores, the crowd erupts.  With the roars of approval, the morale of the Pioneers skyrockets and their play reflects it.  Brett Stangle begins hitting his notorious three point shots as the whole unit clicks.

Although the Pioneers lost the game by two points, it is clear two different Pioneer squads played that night– one trounced by the outcry of the visiting section, and one spurred-on and by the support of those they represent.

Students and faculty alike, when you find yourself debating whether or not to go to a game, go. Be loud, be proud, support your classmates, and help foster a stronger, better UW-Platteville community.

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