The four year challenge


‘Twas the night before Le-Laf, and all through the dorms, not a student was studying, not even for calc. All the fans were rocking their Lehigh gear. In the hope that game day soon would be here. 

Each year, Lehigh students participate in the 10-day Lehigh-Lafayette rivalry challenge. Many students were drawn to Lehigh’s rivalry, as they anticipated our school spirit to extend beyond match ups with the Leopards. 

But, unfortunately, the 10 days of school spirit is seemingly unique to Le-Laf.  

Since 2016, the Mountain Hawks’ attendance has been on the decline. Between the 2016 and 2018 football seasons, average attendance dropped by 1,867.

And while Le-Laf is an unmatched rivalry and tradition, the school spirit gates seem to be locked until then, leaving the Mountain Hawks with little support throughout the rest of the season, which closes shortly thereafter. 

The reason for the lack of student attendance has not been verified, but factors such as stadium location and police presence have been common complaints from students in the past. 

In the fall of 1987, the Mountain Hawks played its last game in Taylor Stadium, which was located where the modern-day Taylor Gym sits.

In a The Brown and White article, Lehigh football alumnus Mark McGowan said Taylor Stadium was filled with an energy that was partially lost with the move to Goodman Stadium: “There was something really special about Taylor, and that was you could walk through campus on the way before the game, walking through everyone’s tailgate. You could just hear and see the spirit of the campus coming alive.”

32 years since the stadium’s move, that spirit seems to have moved to off-campus parties and “mocos”—morning cocktails.

While many students do not make the trip up to Goodman Stadium, fans continue to gather and socialize on game days. What Lehigh seems to be lacking in is the traditional game day experience that seems to play an integral role in the social scene at other universities. 

Surged Uber prices and a lack of consistent busing during the games keep students closer to where the campus once came alive at Taylor Stadium. 

And while students still show Lehigh spirit at mocos and gatherings on Saturday afternoons, empty bleachers say otherwise. Game days offer a unique experience to college students and create an environment that could potentially unify the campus through Lehigh pride. 

But this downward sloping trend is not unique to Lehigh. According to CBS Sports, 2018 attendance reported an average decline among the top 30 football schools. The CBS Sports article identifies alternative social options and the convenience of television as the two biggest threats to football attendance. 

With access to social events and school spirit on lower campus, Lehigh seems to be following in the national trends. 

But as Lehigh students, we do not follow the trends. Instead, we should set the standard. As a student body, we have the power to reignite the school spirit that once brought the campus to life.   

There will always be alternatives to game days, but after our four years at Lehigh are up, we will have lost the opportunity to fully immerse ourselves in the game day spirit that enhances the college experience of so many. 

Lehigh spirit should not be unique to Le-Laf. Rather, our student body and pride should be unique to Lehigh. 

Mountain Hawk support is not a 10-day challenge. 

Instead, The Brown and White editorial board proposes a new challenge for the student body to support our team throughout the entirety of the season—it’s called the four-year challenge. And whether you are a first-year or a senior, there is still time to cheer on the Mountain Hawks and bring the campus to life once again. 

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  1. John G. Lewis '90 on

    Taylor Stadium was located where the Rauch Business Center and Zoellner Arts presently stand, and was constructed in different phases. It was nevertheless largely an accompaniment structure to Taylor gym. While true, having the stadium directly on the main campus did make it convenient, and duly contributed to very lively game day activities and fun, it was moved in 1987 to free up key areas on campus so that our new business center, and later the arts center, could be built.

  2. Robert F Davenport Jr on

    The proposed Packer-Saucon tunnel through South Mountain will alleviate some of the transportation problems.

    Some of the drop-off is probably due to the loss of steelworkers/steel employees from South Bethlehem and the rise of Penn State (PSU) as the collegiate team of the Lehigh Valley. It’s a common occurrence these days as people identify with a “big time” team as a replacement for the local team. The 4 or 5 to 1 ratio of PSU to Lehigh students probably leads to a greater number of PSU alumni in the Lehigh Valley.
    Postpone your weekend celebrations until mid-afternoon. The Brown and White footballers and Marching 97 practice hard and deserve your support. Come and then either celebrate the win or drown out the loss.

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