Last week, SMU students received an email from the athletic department touting a new mobile app for basketball’s most elite group: the Mob. The Varsity “student loyalty program” rewards students who attend men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball and football.
After years in the wake of the 1986 death penalty, which struck each SMU sport in its own way, our school finally has a sport that everyone, students, alumni and strangers around the nation can stand behind. Basketball has become the shining star for SMU fans, who watched the team overcome struggles of its first season in the spotlight.
The Mob featured the student body’s loudest and wildest, who paid $49 to sit in courtside bleachers, and contributed to the second-largest increase in men’s basketball attendance in the nation since 2012.
While the Varsity app will offer a spot in the Mob to the most dedicated students, who have to accumulate 130 points by attending other sporting events, it also, to us, brings up a few sore spots.
Football has always reigned at SMU, even in the dark days after the death penalty. This is Texas, after all. But giving football 30 points over a measly 10 for the other sports underlines one of this school’s biggest problems in athletics. Volleyball, soccer and the many other winter and spring sports deserve just as much attention and attendance as football does. They deserve fans and supporters in the same way the basketball team needs the Mob. Treating them as second-class student athletes only perpetrates the stereotype that SMU cares the most about football.
While these sports need students to attend, the new app seems to be driving students to soccer and volleyball games for numbers alone. According to Skyler Johnson, director of promotions and game day experience, students simply have to check-in to gain the points. There is nothing stopping them from leaving after checking in on the GPS-based app. As a result, the Varsity app won’t help them gain and keep fan attendance. After the contest is over, those teams will once again be without fans.
We feel that the app will encourage competition among SMU students rather than renew school spirit for other sports.
Opinions expressed in each unsigned editorial represent a consensus decision of the editorial board. All other columns reflect the views of individual authors and not necessarily those of the editorial staff.