For the past three years at the University of North Dakota, football has sadly been seen as one of the joke sports that everyone loves to make fun of, tear down due to their perceived inadequacy and a general disinterest in the sport on campus.
The team as a whole is unfairly compared to our hockey program and compared to NDSU as an excuse to further tear down the team.
It is time we as students rally behind our sports teams and stop perpetuating the false rumors and stereotypes about one of the top 25 teams in the nation.
The first issue is a general lack of attendance at games. Students always seem surprised to find out there is a football game going on, or that the tickets to the games are freely provided to us in the student section.
Additionally, students frequently like to complain about a lack of activities and events on campus and yet they ignore one of the biggest parts of the college experience; free athletics tickets on a weekly basis.
Furthermore, it cannot be argued that it is a timing issue. That is to say that the games conflict with other obligations as could be argued with the Forken Festival, since the games routinely start after 12 p.m. on a Saturday, when students do not have to worry about class and likely have off from their work.
Lastly, it does not appear that there is a lack of interest in football, since people are frequently gathered en masse at Wild Wings for both Sunday and Monday Night football, and that obviously are interested in the sport.
The second issue that needs to be discussed is the misconceptions about football on this campus. It is sad that as some students have put it have said they missed the homecoming game but still get to clean the field which is about as fun as watching UND Football when we are talking about one of the best teams in the nation for our division. This attitude shows the level of misconceptions and misconstruing of information in the community.
People appear to assume if a team is ranked in the top 25 (as compared to our top 10 hockey team) it is a poor athletic team, when in reality it is a symptom of the college football ranking system. For example, did you know that to be in the top 25 you need a win percentage of roughly 75%, whereas in hockey to be ranked #1 in the nation we only needed a win rate of 69% in the 2014-2015 season, and a 60% winrate to be ranked 5th in the nation. From a statistical standpoint, you are more likely this season when watching a game to see UND football win than you were to UND hockey win in either of the last 2 seasons (80 percent vs 69 and 59 percent respectively).
Quite frankly, we are seeing a renaissance of competitive football in the Midwest, and every week we have as students the opportunity to watch high caliber games with meaningful implications for the upcoming playoffs, and this is the athletic team we make fun of on this campus.
The last conversation that needs to be had about our football team, is their level of interaction with the fan base compared to every other sport. This campus routinely accuses the football team of being arrogant, when in reality they are perhaps some of the most humble athletes on this campus, and their team is one of the most prolific when it comes to interacting with their community and fans.
For example, almost every week our head coach Bubba makes his way to the Ground Round in Grand Forks to participate on the coaches show, and his team is also the only one on campus that has created a significant rewards program, with a $1000 raffle to students that attend every game this season, and $200 per game for students that attend.
In conclusion, we have the chance to be part of one of the greatest periods of football we will ever see in the Midwest and we are squandering that opportunity, I hope that in the future we will all instead of attempting to tear down our athletics department by perpetuating untrue myths, actively encourage our community or at the very least give them the credit they deserve for their accomplishments.
Dave Owen is an opinion writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]