In the closing seconds of the NCAA National Championship game, Villanova forward Kris Jenkins stormed down the court and hit a three to clinch both the game and the national title. The shot heard around the world punctuated what many say to be the greatest college basketball championship game finish ever.
Generally, this type of dramatic and heart-wrenching “hype” is not felt on campus since the everyday student is not completely devoted and invested in cheering on school athletics.
The University of California, Santa Barbara does not quite have the reputation for having zealous sports fanatics show intense school spirit like some other college campuses do. Even though we do boast an accomplished basketball team, there is definitely a disparity in support for athletics between Santa Barbara and, for example, Duke University.
Known as the “Cameron Crazies,” these suitably named die-hard fans in North Carolina camp out for an upwards of three months to get tickets to attend big rivalry games. However, in Santa Barbara, the buzz around town does not center around an upcoming game or match, which underscores the communities’ priorities and interests.
Sure, people would pull for the Gauchos to win and occasionally check for updates, but rarely is anybody circling dates on their calendar when another school comes to town. It would be rare to see a super fan fully decked out in UCSB gear, much less a few thousand of them in line to score tickets to a game a few months in advance.
Sure, we made the NCAA tournament a few times in the past, but the culture that consumes the students here does not focus on overdoing Gaucho pride, but rather on the casual fan who will root for UCSB. Traditionally, we have more of a lax, easy-come-easy-go fan base. The immediate community does not dedicate their passion to our athletic program unlike other schools, and that has a major role in the supposed apathy toward sports.
Even though we are not categorized as a typical sports-crazed college campus, it is not necessarily considered a bad thing. Us Gauchos don’t fit the typical college sports town mold of tailgating and face painting.
For one thing, we are smaller than most of the big-name schools that make the tournament, so statistically, there will not be as many fans. For another, it simply is not our identity as a school. Each school is known for different things and has its own calling.
The students here stray away from the mayhem that is March Madness. Rather, they focus their attention elsewhere. They can be seen exploring their interests, like being involved in various student movements, participating in events in I.V. and even heading to the beach on a weekday. This way, we constantly shape and evolve Gaucho culture into something unique and our own.
While some students may feel that they miss out on the conventional college experience, others revel in the fact that there is not a cultish following of sports year round. There is not a constant urge or pressure to attend sporting events because we are not causing ripples nationwide. We have thrived in this niche, and UCSB’s distinct personality allows its students to pursue school pride in their own way.