For decades, Wake Forest University has boasted one of the more competitive athletic programs in all of Division I sports, with substantial consideration for the size of its undergraduate enrollment.
It should not be overlooked that Wake Forest has had an impressive history in sports for a small, liberal arts, private school that works to promote high academic standards among its athletes and non-athletes.
With eight national championships, 20 NCAA Tournament appearances, an NBA-high three 2015 All-Star Game selections and as the only school in North Carolina to win the ACC Championship Game in football, students should have had every reason to fill the stands in recent years.
Yet, it is a common consensus among the Wake Forest community that student support is often lacking at sporting events.
One argument that exists is that Wake Forest students only attend sporting events for the tailgating experience. Rather than going to the game to cheer on the players, they spend more time planning their outfits and socializing among students under tents with beer. After several hours, many students journey back to campus without even stepping foot in the actual stadium.
Others argue that the rigorous course load at Wake Forest makes it hard to work a two-hour game into their schedule. Even though the games are free, attending a game on a week night can be hard to do when there are tests, quizzes and papers looming over the average student’s head at all times.
Another argument lies in the fact that recent graduating classes have experienced some of the worst years in recent Wake Forest sports history.
The class of 2014 was the first to graduate without seeing a basketball team make the NCAA Tournament at least once in over 24 years.
Moreover, less than 10 years removed from playing in the Orange Bowl, the class of 2014 even failed to witness a winning record in football.
And thus, the trend for low attendance and apathetic sentiments began. This environment set a negative tone for future classes.
The Editorial Board of the Old Gold & Black believes this tone should change – and for good reason.
Thus, instead of perpetually lamenting in the shortcomings of the past, we, as a student body, should find hope in the visible signs that Wake Forest sports are making a turn for the better.
First, the future is bright for Wake Forest, indicative through recent recruiting success. In his first full offseason as head coach, Dave Clawson of the football team managed to recruit the highest rated recruiting class in program history — beating out the classes that ultimately produced an ACC Champion in 2006.
The Wake Forest basketball team has pulled off several upsets under the coaching of Danny Manning and his staff. Many other teams at Wake Forest have succeeded in similar ways.
Rather than focusing on the faults of our sports programs in recent years, we as the student body should celebrate the success of our teams relative to the size, academic standards and values our university upholds.