Column: Make the HURD great again

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“No well-behaved student section ever made history” — a quote that becomes increasingly pertinent as we watch our beloved student section slip into mediocrity.

Going to live sporting events are some of our favorite experiences in college. It’s a chance to have fun, to relieve college stresses, to thrash our collective voices on first downs and bad calls by the officials. The games themselves are exciting, but being a part of the HURD completes the experience. A student section is timeless — regardless of when we became Aggies or how long we stay here at USU, we can still remember the moments in the Spectrum that made us believe. These memories follow a similar makeup: no empty seats, students and alumni on their feet, cheering clever and original chants in complete unison.

These games were more than fun — they were legendary.

A common misconception of Spectrum Magic is that it spontaneously occurs — nothing could be further from the truth. Past fans’ commitment made the Spectrum one of the best home-court advantages in the nation. In 2011, ESPN voted the Spectrum one of the nation’s ten toughest places to play, alongside legendary venues like Cameron Indoor. Longtime Aggie basketball coach Stew Morrill’s reign was defined by a jaw-dropping 94 percent home winning percentage. In 2009, the Spectrum was home of the nation’s second longest active win streak behind legendary Kansas University.

Former San Diego State coach Steve Fisher praised the old HURD, stating “I was immensely impressed how they stayed engaged and involved, and without question it helps their team. It’s a big reason why they win about 90 percent of their games here.” If an opposing coach is on record describing the HURD’s active effect on a game’s outcome, we need to do our part to preserve that advantage.

We have seen glimpses of the HURD’s former glory, and they were spectacular. Last year’s “Spectrum Magic” night against CSU and the more recent football game against BYU were some of the best crowd moments in recent memory. Unfortunately, the following matchups were lackluster in comparison. In the past, every contest had the same high stakes, the same passion as beating BYU and stealing back the old wagon wheel. We want that atmosphere back. There are some simple fixes to bring the HURD back to what it was, no matter how the Aggies perform.

Back when Fisher made those comments, the HURD was massive. To bring back the magic our student section once had, we need every student at every game. Incentives like the “Spectrum Magic” or “Stripe the Stadium” shirts are a great way to get more casual fans interested — who doesn’t like free stuff? Other incentives are still needed to fill the student section consistently, and they don’t need to break the bank. A dance party or pep rally (we know — so high school, but they work) before the doors open, or occasional game themes asking students to dress up. Simple rewards and prizes go a long way to create buy-in.

To ensure students come to the games, it’s essential all students know when and where the games occur (a novel concept, we know). Students should be reminded it’s game day everywhere they look. Especially during basketball season, a special effort should be made to announce gameday. And guess what, when the men’s team is on the road, women’s hoops plays at home — the Hurd ought to be there too.

A game day culture prevailed when the HURD was the best in the nation. Game day was a race to be the first through the doors, a competition to be the best fan and ultimately a chance to be a true-blooded Aggie. It was an expectation that every student would be at the game, whether for the sporting event itself or merely the social aspect of it all. That was the culture. Cheering alongside thousands of your schoolmates was an activity that many of these students cherished, and many wish would come back.

In the HURD’s hay-day, students were completely into the game. They were loud, proud, obnoxious and clever. Every student knew and sang the Scotsman and the fight song with pride. Compare that to the sad silence during these songs at the Homecoming game this year. We need to bring back that fun atmosphere — and if we’re honest, it’s fun to heckle the other team a bit.

It’s on the HURD leadership to communicate more effectively with the student section on what we are cheering, and on everyone else to be a more active student section participant. The HURD should have its core leaders up front to lead cheers, but also have an enlarged HURD committee spread throughout the student section to get more students involved. They can be examples to newer students on how things are done here at Utah State. This will create a better atmosphere, and a greater feeling of inclusion in our student section.

The HURD can be a great opportunity to meet new friends — a big reason so many people come to the games in the first place. Many past students didn’t necessarily care about the football team’s conference ranking or Tai Wesley’s points per game, but they came to meet people and have fun.

Traditions are essential to a thriving student section. Unfortunately, we’ve allowed some traditions to wither or die out altogether, or only unleash them every few years. Such was the case of the HURD slumber party — it’s happened before, and should be continued every year from now on. Cheers like the once infamous “Welcome to hell” need to be brought back, and the old HURD traditions need to be passed on to future students.

A pregame pep rally or a postgame tradition like a dance party or meeting up at Angie’s after a win would go a long way to unifying the students and re-solidifying important HURD traditions.

We all want to have a better college experience, and we all want to see our team win. If we are a great student section, we can help our teams win more games. Win or lose, going to games and being part of an amazing HURD will make our college careers one to remember.

As a student section in the past, we made national headlines, but only because of the passion each student had for the game. We can bring it back, but only if everyone — leaders and students alike — put in the proper effort.

 

— Colton Cowan is a junior studying human biology. He likes to consider himself a smart person. Richard Poll is a senior studying International Studies. He married up, no questions about it. Logan Jones just has opinions.


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