EDITORIAL: Football team needs stronger fan base
Without support, Scarlet Knights may not improve on the field
As of right now, it looks as if the Rutgers football team is stuck in an unfortunate paradox. Despite being on a clear trajectory upward, the Scarlet Knights have not yet managed to garner a significant fan base, and this is likely contributing to the rut that they are in.
It is reasonable to assume that a team has more difficulty achieving its fullest potential without a strong fan base. Loud and supportive fans have been equated to a sort of “12th man” — they have the ability to actually help their team win by boosting confidence and intimidating the opposing team. Although the students who actually show up to the home games are quite loud, Rutgers lacks this attribute most of the time, especially compared to most of the other Big Ten teams. Here, we never sell out our stadium, which at a capacity of more than 50,000, is still roughly half the size of some other Big Ten stadiums like those of Penn State or the University of Michigan, which both have a capacities of more than 100,000 and consistently manage to sell out. That might have something to do with the fact that there is nothing to do around places like State College other than tailgate and support their team, and the same goes for some other strong Big Ten football schools like Nebraska.
Many Rutgers students, alumni and fans do not attend the games because they assume it is pointless. In other words, they see that the Rutgers football team has a history of losing more often than not during these past few years, and they assume that the team is likely to continue to do so and therefore deduct that to go to the game would be a waste of time. And, presumably, students and fans are not satisfied with this team. Nobody wants their team to be a laughing stock, it reflects badly on the school as a whole. But how is the team supposed to gain confidence without a solid fan base or proof that their fellow students care about them? Part of the reason the team does not win as much as we would like probably stems from this lack of confidence resulting from their lack of fans.
This is where the paradox comes into play. The football team does not win partially because it lacks confidence as a result of its lack of fans, and since it does not win, the fans do not show up. It can be assumed that one of the main things the best football recruits in the country look for in a prospective team is a significant fan base. These players want to be known and they want to be a part of a football program that is respected. Obviously, they do not want to attend a school that has a lack of pride pride and low attendance in terms of their sport. So without a strong fan base, the team cannot recruit to their fullest potential — and without being able to recruit multiple good players, the team cannot get better. Therefore, for now, the fan base will remain unenthusiastic and the team unimpressive.
It clearly takes some time for teams to solidify after joining the Big Ten. Rutgers is new, and in this league they go up against some of the best teams in college football — teams that have been building their legacy in the Big Ten for years and years. So what the fans as well as the team need to do is simply be patient for now. The four-star recruit for quarterback, Artur Sitkowski, cannot transform the football program alone, but it can start with him. The team is slowly getting better, and if the fans start to show up, we may be able to build a legacy of our own in the coming years.
The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 149th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.