Quick Take: How does the lack of a football team affect campus culture at AU?
AU pride rooted in academics, not athletics
By Emily Dalgo
Party roars that are muffled only by a blaring school fight song or a Top 40 single; girls dressed in high heels, red lipstick, and pearls posing for pictures, hands on hips; a sea of crimson and blue fans, feeding off of one another’s drunken excitement and sipping from red solo cups—this is college, right?
Wrong. This is football game day, known for providing the atmosphere of an everyday college campus and what it is supposed to look like. AU, quite fortunately, does not buy into this doctrine. For many colleges, the football team is a marketing ploy, one that AU simply doesn’t need. We all came here fully aware of the non-existent football program, so the lack of an NCAA team is irrelevant for most AU students. We find our sense of pride and community in other ways: academics, rather than all-star athletes, get the fans at AU.
Victory parties, tailgating and school spirit is fun. But we didn’t come to AU to watch our friends and peers become famous for winning NCAA Player of the Year awards. We’re much more interested in the future possibility and likelihood that we will vote for the guy who sat next to us in an SPA class into the House or Senate, or watch the girl from ATV anchor a nightly newscast on CNN.
Students can casually walk right past Bender Arena and, unbeknownst to them, a major volleyball game, basketball game, or swim meet is transpiring inside. This isn’t to say the students here don’t care at all about our sports teams. We definitely do. At AU, though, we aren’t forced to become avid sports fans or feel like lesser students if we aren’t on a team.
Schools pour funding into their football programs while academics may fall by the wayside, and a quarterback with a full-ride scholarship is put on the big screen. This is not the case at AU. Our college lifestyles are not centered around or even guided by a football team. Every shirt we wear around campus does not have to scream “Go Eagles!” to advertise our pride for going to one of the best universities in the nation. In fact, most AU shirts are not printed with the face of Clawed Z. Eagle, but rather with “American University” on them, because the school’s identity resides not in a mascot, but in its name.
When someone asks me where I go to school, I am proud to say “American University” and have the response be, “Wow that’s a great school,” rather than, “Wow, you have a great football team.”
Emily Dalgo is a freshman in the School of International Service.
Lack of sports culture provides extracurricular diversity for students
By Emma Williams
AU is lucky not to have a football team.
At most schools with established football teams, the sport will dominate students’ attention. At my high school, football was the only thing anyone paid attention to, while less popular sports, performing arts, and academic teams continually lost funding. At AU, however, students are free to find what activity interests them the most and devote their time to it, no matter how obscure.
Allowing everyone to focus on their own niche activities is crucial to AU fostering its own sense of community. Students feel more comfortable when their interests are represented fairly, and the wide variety of clubs that students can join allows for each student to make a number of friends with similar interests.
Most importantly, not having a major sports team leads to a more academically-focused environment on campus. Without the all-consuming focus on sports, students have more time to study, intern and work in the D.C. community. At schools where football is the most well-known program at the school, such as the University of Alabama, many students feel pressured to attend every game that their schools’ teams play, often at the expense of their school work and jobs.
Without a defined community, AU has been able to make its own unique mark in D.C. and the world. Being known for only one thing is limiting, but AU students are free to choose what is important to them throughout their time in college. Each new freshman has a practically unlimited selection of sports, clubs, and jobs available to them, and can even create their own field of study by working with their advisors.
When all focus is not placed on one extracurricular activity at a school, all students can feel like they are welcome in a diverse, accepting community.
Emma Williams is a freshman in the School of Communication.
Lack of football team is not equivalent to lack of school pride
By Marisa Fein
With another week of classes over and the weekend ahead, students fill the stadium with painted faces, decked from head to toe in collegiate gear. As the football team scores its winning touchdown, the whole crowd breaks into a roar. School pride can practically be felt in the air.
This is my idea of how a typical college football game would play out, but because I am an AU student, it is something that I will probably never experience. While AU provides endless opportunities for its students, offering everything from Model UN to a beekeeping club, it is widely known that the school is lacking when it comes to athletics. The fact that AU does not even have a football team, which seems like a complete contradiction to its name as “The American University”, shows the lack of importance that the school places on sports.
A lack of collegiate football is just another thing that makes AU unique and contributes to the culture of the campus. We are a student body who would rather become involved with the city around us than sit in a crowded stadium during our free time. While not having football games does mean that AU lacks a central event to draw the whole school together, it does not make us any less of a community.
AU students take pride in our school, even if we don’t express it on a football field. Instead, our school spirit can be seen all around D.C. At practically any march or protest in the city, you are bound to see a few AU sweatshirts. Ultimately, a lack of a football team does not equal a lack of school pride.
While it may seem strange to some to attend a school where the word “tailgate” is used less often than the words “foreign policy,” to most students it becomes a way of life. At the end of the day, I am proud to say that I am a student at AU, a school that prides itself on more than just the achievements of its athletic department.
Marisa Fein is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences.