Well, technically there were even more, but that is roughly how many Mizzou fans were at the football game last Saturday. As I stood with my camera, waiting for Murray State to run to its sideline, I was actually in awe.
It was quite a surreal experience for me. Though I have grown up a Southeastern Conference fan, it was my first game at an SEC stadium. I felt inspired and disappointed at the same time. It was incredible to be in a place where so many people supported their team so strongly.
Yet it was sad to compare that to a Murray State crowd. I almost felt pity for our team – not because I don’t believe in them, but because our school as a whole seems not to have faith.
In a stadium that encircles nearly 80 percent of the field, I struggled to find many seats that were not filled. Their fans likely expected a blowout, but that did not stop them from dedicating their entire Saturday to the Tigers. The temperature maxed out in triple digits in the early afternoon. That would usually keep most people indoors, especially for such a mismatched game that was not to be played until 6 p.m.
Not Mizzou fans, though. When Jonathan Ferris and I pulled into Columbia, Mo., around 3 p.m., cars lined the road for more than a mile, and tents were set up as far as the eye could see. Tailgating was in full swing.
When the game was about to start, the announcer called out the names of the Missouri starters. For a few of the players, the cheers were so loud I could feel the vibrations on my skin.
After every touchdown, the crowd roared. Half of the stadium yelled “M-I-Z,” while the other half responded with “Z-O-U” over and over again. I think I might have become a Tigers fan by the end of the game. That’s how incredible the experience is. And they were only playing Murray State.
So, why don’t we do that here? I think part of it is apathy. Part of it is laziness. Part of it is no sense of pride in our school. I get that our team has had a few down years, but that is never a reason to stop cheering, to stop caring.
I mean, we’re only in college for four or five years, on average. And college is the last chance most of us have to really let the kid inside us run freely and have fun before we face the real world.
Can we really not spend a few hours a week supporting our teams? I know many Murray State students have jobs, but not everyone.
I’m pretty active, not including my job, and I still make it out to games, so I don’t accept that excuse anyway. Even beyond football, we show little support for anything other than men’s basketball. That’s pathetic.
It’s easy to have fun when a team wins and easy to want to skip out when they aren’t doing so well. But stop and think about it. The players are just like you and me. They are classmates and friends. They need support. And we don’t give it to them. Shame on us.
Greeks support each other all the time. It’s the same thing every year, and essentially all the money is just making a big circle anyway. I’m not hating on Greeks. I just think if they can show support day in and day out, whether they want to or not, we, as a Murray State community, can do it for our teams.
Maybe a little support could help them win some games. And winning games will lead to more support. What else are you going to do Saturday nights anyway? Party? Get drunk? Waste time some other way? Don’t be stupid. Go to games. Take some pride in your school.
Column by Ryan Richardson, Sports Editor