Our UCLA football and basketball teams are poised for solid seasons. We’ve gone through football quite a bit, and this team could conceivably win nine games in 2012. Our basketball squad, meanwhile, would be pretty damn disappointing if a national championship doesn’t result.
Things are changing in Westwood (compared to the past four years), it seems, and UCLA students, fans and alum are excited as hell.
Wait, UCLA students? Excited? That can’t be right. My mistake.
I can’t speak for the 27,000 undergrads at UCLA, but it seems as if a majority of the UCLA fan-base consists primarily of UCLA alum from prior to 2008 and UCLA fans who have followed the team since they were kids, but did not go to college at UCLA.
These are welcome fans, mind you. They aren’t any less important supporters because they aren’t students.
But some pride in our teams at school? Some involvement and buzz around campus from students, in classrooms and at Ackerman Union? That’s dead.
Because we’re a bunch of nerds. And that’s not a bad thing — we, the students of UCLA, comprise of what is likely the most politically conscious, most involved, most intelligent student body in the entire nation. We take pride in the fact that we are, indeed, Bruins, and that we did, indeed, get accepted into one of the best universities in the country to make a difference rather than just get a job.
School pride isn’t what we’re lacking, but support for our student-athletes is exactly what this school is lacking.
That’s not entirely your fault, dear student. I can’t blame you for not going to the L.A. Sports Arena to watch a 19-11 basketball team that got snubbed by the freaking NIT. I can’t blame you for refusing to go to watch a UCLA football team that became the first 6-8 college football team in history. I can’t even blame you for not going out of your way to not know who is even on these teams.
I can blame you, though, for not knowing these things. I can blame you for not knowing who the hell Jim Mora is, despite the fact that the rest of the college football fan-base knows exactly who that is. I can blame you for not understanding the importance of Shabazz Muhammad, or for not even knowing how to pronounce his name. I can blame the hell out of you for never knowing when the hell our games are scheduled for.
Because these are simple facts that even the most casual UCLA fan would know. None of this requires research — it was all major news when it occurred and remains at the forefront of the narratives dominating our upcoming athletics season. These are things that you should have friggin’ engraved in your brain as you start pattering your little feet on the way back to Westwood.
But the average UCLA student doesn’t care. Of the hundreds of students I’ve talked to, in passing, since I transferred to UCLA in September 2011, I’ve met five, maybe six students who actually knew what the hell was going on with UCLA sports. I didn’t know all that much, mind you, but none attended games, none knew what was going on nor were any interested in the slightest.
There’s a fan-base on campus, though. You should know this. They’re the die-hards that are more likely to root for our basketball team — the most historical basketball program in the nation will attract more attention for the time being — and they’re the ones that were watching Ben Howland’s squad being obliterated by Arizona during the Pac-12 tournament at Ackerman Union. They were the ones that stuck around just past the beginning of class to hear Shabazz Muhammad choose UCLA as his next school at Ackerman. They, in layman terms, actually gave a damn.
But don’t be mistaken by this small chunk of UCLA students. They represent a tiny minority of students who care much for any of the teams.
You don’t have to be like me, so obsessed with UCLA athletics that I’ll blog about a recruit during the middle of class just because I care so damn much. You don’t even have to talk about UCLA athletics so much, or at all, to anyone. You don’t even have to attend the damn games (although considering our attendance numbers, we urge you to do so).
No, you just have to care. You just have to be willing to watch at least half of the games on the slate this year. You should at least be looking at the Pac-12 football and basketball standings, and know UCLA’s record within the conference, so you don’t embarrass the crap out of me and the rest of the group of UCLA sports fanatics on campus.
We get that you might not understand basketball or football. That’s cool. You don’t have to. You just need to know when our team’s winning, watch a few games with some buds a few times a year, and understand just how good we’re supposed to be and just how good we actually are. You need to be able to root for our teams in any way that’s convenient for you, and have some pride in our teams, even if there isn’t much to be proud about. You need to bleed Bruin Blue and Gold even if you aren’t attending games with your fellow Blue-bloods.
You just need to care. You need to support our goddamn Bruins.