With a sea of college coeds donning one of two shades of blue courtside during the Final Four last night—the Connecticut Huskies in true navy, the Kentucky Wildcats closer to the royal hue—it made me truly think about how awe-inspiring and important school spirit can be for any institution, and any student.
Here you had thousands of young coeds painted from head to toe in their school colors going raging mad for their team. And rightfully so. Competing in, and winning, the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship,a single-elimination tournament currently featuring 68 other college basketball teams, is HUGE. Huge for the student body. And even more so for the University.
Maybe I was being a bit nostalgic reminiscing my "blue and white days" at Penn State, but for some reason, no matter what team was victorious last night, I couldn't help but focus on the fans—and what it means to support your school with such overwhelming enthusiasm and intangible pride. Why do we all get so nutty for our schools?
If you think about school spirit at its most basic level, here's why:
School spirit brings kids together.
School spirit can set the tone for the entire student body. Starting from the top down, allowing students to rally behind a big game or express their support with banners, spirit week, pep rallies, etc. is an investment in a school's good name.
More than 10,000 students were said to have shook the stands in UConn's Gampel Pavilion last night, as the Huskies won their second National Championship in four years. The celebration is sure to continue campus-wide as the team returns to Storrs today. When everyone works towards a common goal, morale is high, and no one is excluded.
School spirit has academic benefits.
Overall good will for your school makes everyone emotionally and mentally brighter; it even shows with better test scores. Students tend to perform better in the classroom when school administrators and teachers can also motivate their kids behind a common academic goal like having the first-place robotics team or highest SAT scores among their rival schools. UConn students must have attended class with a big smile today.
School spirit is monetary.
Let's face it. Garbing out in your team's wears makes money for your school. From tees, sweats, and caps to car magnets and beyond, why not reap the fundraising benefits of dressing in all of that school mascot paraphernalia. It's unifying and fun. Did you notice the sea of Huskies and Wildcat tees on TV?
No matter what team you are watching, school spirit can be personally fulfilling.
Cheering for—and watching—stellar athletes at their best reminds us all of some basic life principles. That hard work pays off. That passion and "love of the game" can fuel the fires to victory. And that dreams do really come true. You can bet that it was once University of Connecticut's MVP, Shabazz Napier's, early childhood dream to play in a national title game and eventually go pro. And now his dreams are—and will be—realized.
I have to commend UConn for the amazing win last night—and for reminding me, and all of us, that school spirit serves a purpose and a common good. It promotes student unity, makes money for education, motivates our kids to work harder academically, and keeps personal dreams alive.