By Hayden Cox, Columnist
If you are reading this article, you are likely familiar with what attracts so many people to Furman year after year: excellent opportunities, a beautiful campus and a tight knit community. But that does not mean we do not have our flaws.
Last week, after track practice, I was sitting in the dining hall with one of my teammates when a Furman sophomore, Kyle Strickland, walked by in an Elon shirt. I’m sure most of us would agree it is pretty common to see students walking around campus wearing clothes that support other schools. But coming off a weekend of travel to an SEC school, I realized the difference. There, I did not see a single student walking around supporting any school but their own.
That is clearly not the case at Furman.
“I wear Elon, Brown, Duke, or whatever in addition to Furman clothes. I don’t think people here care,” said Strickland, who considers himself an “average” fan of Furman sports, noting affinity for the basketball and cross country teams.
Clearly he and most students who wear gear from other schools don’t think much of it. But it seems many of the student athletes on campus think differently.
Paladin Volleyball player and SoCon-All Tournament libero, Meg DeMaar, said, “Honestly, I get a bit salty when I see students supporting schools other than Furman, especially Clemson. Everyone assumes that because Clemson is such a well-known school, that they must be better than us at volleyball. Most people don’t know that we’ve beaten Clemson all three years we’ve played them.”
Former Men’s Track & Field SoCon Champion, Brock Baker, spoke along the same lines. “It definitely affects school spirit. I wish that students here would support us more. Especially as an athlete, seeing students in other school’s gear kind of sucks. Dins or die.”
Aryn Greene agreed. A member of the Women’s Tennis team and transfer student from Alabama University, she said, “I think it’s disrespectful. We chose to go here for a reason. It bothers me because it looks like the students who wear clothes from other schools wish they had gone somewhere else.”
When asked about how it was at Alabama, Greene laughed before saying, “It is so different. Anyone would be judged if they wore another school’s shirt. People there are super proud of their school and wouldn’t dream of wearing another school’s gear. I found it so strange when I saw that people at Furman do that.”
To change a culture, to take the cross country team’s motto, you have to “Start small. Think big.” A culture of athletic support and school spirit starts with each individual student. So next time you are packing your bags to come back to school, leave the rival’s gear at home and bring plenty of purple. In the words of Mr. Baker, “Dins or die.”