To the fair-weather college football fan, to the person who only likes her college's football team when they do well, to the person who sells all of his remaining tickets once his school no longer has a chance at the playoffs, to the masses of people who leave the stadium early when the team is not going to win, this is for you—
I know that you are so deeply connected to your college and that bond only strengthens when your school has a strong football team. It is an honor and a privilege for me to attend a college with a great football program, so I understand how badly you want your team to succeed because I want mine to as well. Like you, I am covered in school spirit at the games, taking pictures with my friends to commemorate the day, screaming for all of my favorite players, and booing the opponents.
Yes, I too am devastated after a loss. I know the rules, I understand the value of a loss and how it can severely harm a team's ranking and possible spot in the playoffs. Yet, in spite of all of the grief all of us experience, the world isn't over, the sun will rise again, and we have more games to play. And I will be cheering as passionately, booing as loudly, and watching as intently as we play the next game.
If you "give up" on your team, you are not fulfilling your role as a fan.
Yes, fans do play a crucial role in winning a game, particularly in college football. No, we're not running the ball down the field, tackling other players, throwing, or catching, but we do have a push for who wins the game. Think about when we're encouraged, uplifted, and cheered on when performing a difficult task. It's no surprise that we perform better. Our teams need that same support to win future games.
In fact, a study showed that NBA teams had a 10.11% higher chance of winning at home. In basketball, there are no differences in court dimensions, temperature, or playing conditions--all those factors are controlled so it comes down to one thing: the fans. All of the players fulfilled their role by practicing and playing hard, but their training is not enough without encouragement. And they will have less encouragement when you sell off all of your tickets.
What if somebody "gave up" on supporting you because you weren't succeeding?
Imagine you begin to struggle in a sport you play so your coach gives up on you because he only wants to coach "good athletes." Your grade starts to slip in a class so the professor no longer cares about you because she only wants to feel responsible for A-students. You make a mistake and your parents disown you because they only want to parent perfect children.
This same logic applies to you as you leave the stadium in the fourth quarter before the game ends and your team is down 28-0 since you never want to be seen as a fan of a losing team. But it really isn't about you. It's about everyone in your school's community that need you to help cheer on the team.
It's about a student section that is brought together to back their team and make the players feel as though they are winning it for the fans.
Purdue University's Tyler Trent gained national attention for his determination to attend all of his school's football games, despite his tireless battle with terminal cancer. He stood behind them through their 0-3 slump before they rose to 4-3, including a major win against Ohio State, one of their strongest conference opponents. His strength brought the entire Purdue football student section together, both in their fight against cancer and against opponents. The fans supported a struggling team and helped them defeat some of the strongest teams in college football, all because they did not give up on their team, even if their bodies were giving up on them.
It is about supporting your team through the best years and the worst, amidst adversity, amidst upsets, amidst times when you really wish you were supporting the #1 team even though you are still supporting #20. You are an integral part of your school's community and an integral part of the student section.
So when your team loses, keep your tickets and move on to the next game. When you give up, you aren't doing your team any favors.
A college football fan who will attend games regardless of my school's record.