I was told by senior quarterback Nick Shafnisky earlier this year that the attitude toward athletics on Lehigh’s campus was changing.
He said attendance was up this season and people were approaching him to congratulate him throughout the week follow the victory.
I was surprised.
This is just my second year at Lehigh, and I was under the impression that it was normal for Division I players to receive this treatment.
Of course, there is a difference between the athletic prominence of a huge state school and that of a medium-sized engineering school on a mountain in Pennsylvania. But I was nonetheless taken aback by his comments on the newly formed interest in the Mountain Hawks I had assumed was already there.
But now that the semester is nearly coming to a close along with my ride as the sports editor for the paper, I’m starting to figure out why. It’s the same reason that everybody stopped talking about Lehigh sports when Shafnisky’s team lost to UNH in the first round of the FCS playoffs.
It’s because Lehigh students are bandwagoners.
For those unfamiliar with the term, a bandwagoner is a sports fan who lacks genuine fan-hood that derives its motivation to root for a team from the success that team is having.
Now I want to be clear and say that I don’t expect every Lehigh student to be interested in sports. And I can complain all I want about people not coming to games, but that does not mean it will change anything.
So instead of complaining, I’ll make a case using a simple reason why students should care about the sports and athletes on campus: they’re all around Lehigh.
According to Forbes, 16.3 percent of Lehigh’s student body is made up of varsity athletes. To put that in perspective, it’s about one out of every six. By those calculations, when a freshman walks into their first orientation meeting they’re likely to meet three or four athletes right away.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you need to be friends with all of them. But if we’re striving to create an inclusive campus at Lehigh, we should be making connections with them and supporting them in their efforts.
So if you’re proud to be a Lehigh student, don’t wait. Hop off the bandwagon and take a seat on the bleachers.