A major part of college, aside from cramming for exams and pulling all-nighters, is attending sporting events.
Many students live for the moment when their basketball team upsets a ranked opponent at home with a last second buzzer beater, or when their football team crushes the rival with home-field advantage.
The excitement of having a Division I sport brings joy and pride to the fans whenever there is a home game. For those colleges that don’t have Division I sports on their campus, the next best thing is Intramural sports.
Many may not know the differences between the two: Division I, II, and III sports are sanctioned by the NCAA. This means that the NCAA can punish or reward the sports teams, like preventing a team from attending a tournament because of a scandal, but it can also reward schools.
For example, the NCAA supports academic enhancement programs for Division I players, so the organization gives the schools money for these types of programs.
Intramural sports are recreational sports organized by the college itself, such as dodgeball, flag football or ultimate frisbee. The key difference between the two is that intramural sports aren’t sanctioned by an organization like the NCAA, so colleges without varsity teams don’t receive grants.
Varsity sports teams on college campuses are also beneficial to the college because the teams give the school recognition. If you say the name Alabama Crimson Tide, people immediately think of a powerhouse football team.
When schools don’t have any big-name sports teams, this dissuades many future students from attending the college. There are real-life scenarios of students that attend schools that don’t have major sports teams, but still travel to the home games for the love of the sport.
That’s the reality here at USF St. Petersburg. Our Division I sports run through the Tampa campus, which requires students here to commute to Tampa for any sporting event.
Football games, basketball games and even tennis matches all take place 30 minutes from our campus. With multiple sporting events taking place every week, spending an hour to travel back and forth becomes an annoyance. Over time, one hour quickly turns into five — or even 10 — that you could use doing literally anything else.
More specifically, traveling to Raymond James Stadium to see the Bulls play is a chore. The atmosphere is always an exciting experience and the stadium itself is so iconic, with a battleship behind the endzone and palm trees dancing in the wind.
But I wish traveling to Tampa every week to support my school wasn’t a necessity.
As developmentally constricted as it is, USFSP needs to find a way to bring Division I sports to the area. It could be as simple as working out a partnership with the Tampa Bay Rowdies to have our own collegiate sports teams play at Al Lang Stadium.
USFSP has been its own accredited university since 2006, but if it wants to truly step out of Tampa’s shadow, it needs to establish its own collegiate sports in St. Petersburg.
Photo by Alyssa Coburn | The Crow’s Nest