You’re Paying for Those Empty Box Seats, You Know

    After letting the state title slip last season, members of the UCSD women’s soccer team were ecstatic to crush California Collegiate Athletic Association rival Cal State Dominguez Hills and reclaim the crown on Nov. 9 in a decisive 3-1 victory that featured aggressive defense and surprising performances by two up-and-coming freshmen who scored their first goals of the season.

    But despite winning the coveted championship, which vaults the No. 19 Tritons into contention for the national NCAA Division-II title, fan support remains virtually nonexistent. The sidelines were practically empty for the duration of the regular season, even though many matches, including the championship, were held at our very own Triton Soccer Field.

    The No. 11 women’s volleyball and No. 8 men’s water polo teams are also set to make the playoffs this year, and the same problem continues to haunt both of those squads: Other than the handful of members who make up diehard school spirit crew Triton Tide and a few dedicated friends and family members, UCSD students don’t really seem to care very much about campus athletics, and strong performances by our best teams often go unnoticed by the average undergraduate.

    It was just two academic years ago that students voted to increase yearly intercollegiate athletics fees by $234 in an emotionally charged referendum dubbed by supporters as critical to maintaining campus spirit and community and opponents as, well, a waste of money. The referendum passed with a healthy 12-point margin and garnered a 42 percent voter participation rate, a stunning showing on a campus historically plagued by apathy (last year only 9 percent of students voted in the general A.S. election).

    Since then, bleachers and sidelines remain as cricket infested as ever, a blinding contradiction that leaves this board wondering just how much the beefed-up athletics department improves campus life when almost no one save the athletes even bothers showing up for a game.

    Students continue to dismiss athletics, and the department — now with loads more money to its name — is still failing in its attempts to boost visibility, leaving the hardworking athletes the biggest losers of all, even when they’re winning.

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