Grizz Gang needs to show up for everyone

Serving as OU’s student section, Grizz Gang attends games to be peer support and hype for their fellow Grizzly students. The Grizz Gang website states the group is the Grizzly spirit and passion at all home athletic events, but their photos of exclusively men’s basketball suggest otherwise.

For example, the men’s basketball team had a game nationally broadcasted on ESPN 2 last month and you bet the Grizz Gang section was packed. Anyone who was in the O’rena for the game that night experienced the best home-game environment for an OU sports team since the beginning of the pandemic. My question is: Why does it take a nationally-televised game for the Grizz Gang to show up and make their presence felt?

There are many sports at OU, and many student athletes putting their time and energy into their respective sport. All teams deserve the support of their school, peers and community.

I know that support from your peers can go a long way — this is all coming from an athlete who has competed at the collegiate level for the past four years. Hearing a crowd at your game or meet can be super impactful and inspiring to athletes, and can help push them to be better. It makes winning a game more rewarding.

When speaking with Ke’Sha Blanton, interim head coach of OU’s women’s basketball team, she mentioned how upset the girls feel, since they’re always supporting others, but not receiving the same support from the campus community at their home games. 

“They just want that support and it’s important you know, because every sport wants someone there cheering for them,” Blanton said. “These players work hard, everybody works hard.”

One of the senior players on the team recently tweeted at Grizz Gang, upset that they never came and supported her during her four years of being an athlete on the team. 

“So many times you go on the road and have people rooting against you,” Blanton said. “When you come home you don’t want a silent crowd. You want someone there that is invested in the school and in the team.”

And no, it isn’t just women’s basketball that isn’t getting the support. Swimming and diving, volleyball, track and field, among others all struggle to draw student support at their games. 

With baseball season coming up, Grizz Gang should be putting forth the effort to support student athletes of all teams. Just going to the men’s baseball games is not enough — they should also be attending women’s sports. 

When talking with Brittany Welch, a senior at OU on the women’s volleyball team, she talked a lot about how — especially coming off COVID-19 — her team has been looking for the support of their peers. With all the four years she has been on the team, Grizz Gang has not attended one game.

The volleyball team was not allowed spectators during COVID-19. Players were looking forward to having the community attend their home games again and make an impact from the stands.

“It honestly motivated the team to play better, just because when you have your student body present, we want to be the best we can be for them,” Welch said. “When we hear them cheering for us, and when we have people there we play better and we feel better.”

Women’s volleyball has about 15 to 20 home games a season, totaling to about 80 home games within the past four years that Welch and her team have never seen Grizz Gang at. The games are all either at night or on Saturdays, so the excuse of student class time conflicts doesn’t really hold up.

If Grizz Gang is claiming to be that supportive on their website, they need to show up and prove it. Actions will always speak louder than words. Unfortunately at the moment, the photos on their website speak for themselves.