Yesterday was this blog's anniversary. I never stopped down to explain what my goal for Voodoo Five was when I wrote the first post. But having grown tired of the knee-jerking and reactionary things our fans were saying in various places online, I wanted to create a place that would take a more reasoned, level-headed (but still honest and sometimes tough) approach to being a USF fan. I wasn't sure whether or not there was an audience for this kind of thing. I just knew I didn't want our entire fan base to come to be defined by some of the things our "fans" were saying on the Internet, and this was my way of trying to change that.
Fortunately, it turns out there are a lot of you who feel this way. Even without very much promotion and with very little happening externally to drive people to the blog, we've still managed to grow our site traffic at a steady rate and plant the seeds of a real community. Whether you've read one post, or all of them, all three of us want to thank all of you for reading and participating in this site.
Speaking of participating... we have a growing problem in our fan base, and I think it's time to come right out and confront it. I mentioned it in passing a couple of weeks ago, but we need to talk about it in more detail.
We are all coasting.
I mean everyone, including the fans. Especially the fans. What happened to all the enthusiasm and excitement that was on display even a year or two ago? Why has our attendance plummeted? Where did all our students go? Why are ticket-holders not coming to football or basketball games? Why has the buzz about USF athletics dropped so far so fast around the Bay area? Why am I tweeting about how I'd rather watch the Archer season premiere than finish the USF-DePaul game? (I did finish it and watch the re-air, but still.) Where did it all go?
It's not just us. There are other problems, to be sure. USF's teams are rarely mentioned outside of local media. It's difficult to see how our fans are being marketed to, except with ticket discounts. Even though our stated goals are to compete for Big East championships and national championships, we seem content to keep coaches around who haven't been able to do that. There's more to this part of the equation, and I'll get back to it after signing day.
But ultimately, those things aren't ours to control. We can raise the issues we see and make our suggestions, but in the end we have to trust our leadership to take care of these problems, while we worry about what we can control -- namely, our passion and our support for our teams. And that has been flagging at a most inopportune time.
Let me pose it to you this way. How did you feel after the last play of the 64-12 game, when USF was the #5 team in the country and Jim Leavitt refused to take a knee all the way to the very end? You felt extremely superior, for one, but you also felt like you were part of something really big. Something that was only going to get bigger, and goddammit, you needed to make sure you were on board no matter what happened next.
Now how did you feel a couple of months ago, when our fans completely no-showed the basketball game in Orlando? Not only did the Bulls lose, but it was like no one even cared that they lost. The enthusiasm gap was shocking, the complete opposite of the Florida game. And that was just basketball. What if, God forbid, USF lost a football game like that? What would it be like for you to be in a dismally small group of fans, walking out of there with a bunch of sociopathic people throwing things and giving you the finger and yelling every nasty thing they can think of at you? Then meekly driving back to Tampa wondering what just happened and debating whether you even want to see what happens next?
Oh, and it's going to happen eventually if we're in the same league. Barring some kind of Clemson-over-Virginia dominance that lasts for decades, USF will lose that game someday. The question is, will we shrug our shoulders and say it had to happen eventually, and still be confident in our program and our athletic department still being superior? Or will it be time for a complete meltdown? If it happened tomorrow, I think it would be time for a meltdown, because we have no momentum as a fan base and not much confidence in our teams (while the winners have plenty of both right now). The point is, we shouldn't need a traumatic shock to our system to realize how much we're all collectively slacking as fans. We should be stronger and better than that.
So this is our goal for Year 2: Help us all regain our confidence and our enthusiasm for USF athletics. We can't just sit around to wait and see what will happen in the future. We have to be part of it. College athletics are one of those rare entities in sports where fans can truly improve the future. But it doesn't happen sitting on your hands and hoping that things don't go wrong. That's a guarantee that things will go wrong.
I know we never sing the words to our fight song when it plays, but this is a good time to remember what those words are:
USF Bulls are we,
We hold our standard upright and free.
For Green and Gold we stand united.
Our beacon lighted and noble to see.
USF Bulls are we,
For USF we'll always be.
With all our might we fight the battle
Here and now, and we will win the
It's time to fight the battle.