As a member of the media, we are taught to not root for the teams and players we cover.
But as a student of the university I attend, sometimes I can’t help but root them on under my breath.
During the Western Athletic Conference Tournament in Las Vegas, there were four schools’ fan bases who had a noticeably larger number of fans in attendance.
New Mexico State University, Utah Valley University, Grand Canyon University and CSU Bakersfield had the most support from their fans.
However, what I noticed during that weekend’s games wasn’t the number of fans, but rather the difference in intensity and volume of the cheering from the fans.
New Mexico State boasts the best travelling fan base of any school in the conference. This is understandable, as it is the only institution in the conference with a football program. It also has been a Division I school since 1931.
The Aggies’ men’s and women’s basketball teams have also been the most successful teams in WAC play since the conference realigned in 2013.
Grand Canyon and Utah Valley both have up and coming basketball programs that have created excitement in the school’s respective fan bases.
Grand Canyon’s status as a for-profit institution allows for a cash flow none of the other schools in the WAC can compete with.
It also has the largest arena in the conference and is home to ‘The Havocs’, a student section at GCU home games that makes life tough on visiting opponents.
Utah Valley, meanwhile, has over 37,000 students enrolled and has a rowdy student section of its own.
Then there is CSUB.
Our institution is the closest in proximity to Las Vegas of all the WAC schools, which allows for droves of Roadrunners fans to come and support.
However, the energy and noise created from the other three schools mentioned above, greatly outdid anything our fan base was creating.
It seemed as if our fans were just sitting on their hands.
This, of course, isn’t anything new if you have attended any CSUB sporting events, particularly basketball, in recent seasons.
The men’s basketball team draws nearly 2,800 fans per game, which ranked fourth in the WAC. However, it never sounds like it, even in a small gym like the Icardo Center.
This campus is absent of any sort of game day tradition or rituals. There is no buzz on campus when a big game is approaching. There are no chants or special cheers that occur during the course of the game either.
The only tradition I’ve noticed from the fans is to stand until the Roadrunners score a basket to start the game and the second half.
The swim and dive teams do their part to make noise whenever they are in attendance, as does the pep band, spirit squad and dance team.
However, the rest of those in attendance, particularly the student section, is largely silent and does not add to the atmosphere nor make the Icardo Center an imposing place to play for opponents.
Our teams deserve better than this.
Despite the men’s basketball team enduring a rough season this year, the Roadrunners still performed well at home, going 8-4. There is also plenty of young talent on the roster which offers hope in the near future.
The women’s basketball team had a historic season which saw them advance to the WAC tournament final for the first time in school history.
Despite a successful season for head coach Greg McCall and his team, the Roadrunners only drew an average attendance of 685.
On Wednesday night, the women’s team hosted Fresno State in the first round of the Women’s Basketball Invitational. This was the first time CSUB had hosted a postseason contest since the move to Division I.
The attendance was 1,604, just over half of what the average attendance of a men’s game this season.
Also, a good portion of those in attendance were rooting for Fresno State.
With the move to the Big West Conference on the horizon, students and fans alike will need to address this.
Every school in the Big West, with the exception of the University of Hawaii, is in California. Fans from these schools will flock to Bakersfield and invade the Icardo Center, just as Fresno State fans did.
In order to create a true D-I atmosphere, fans and students alike will need to step their games up.
Our status as a commuter campus does work against us, however, in a town like Bakersfield with not a lot to do, that’s hardly an excuse as to why school spirit is so low on this campus.