Like all good Christians, I am a fan of the Oakland Raiders. I mention this only because there is something going on at Vanguard University that, as a Raider fan, makes my skin crawl.In most of the soccer games I have been to this season, the fans for the visiting team exceed our own. Usually in sheer number, but always in volume, the visiting fans make it seem like our soccer teams are playing an away game.That is where the Raiders come in. I have been to a Raider game, and the one thing you don’t do at their home games is cheer for the other team . . . ever. It would be foolish to wear anything other than silver and black to the Oakland stadium and hope to make it out alive.
Now I know that we are a Christian university and our athletic department follows the NAIA’s “Champions of Character” program. We are supposed to be nice to guests, but that doesn’t mean that we allow Biola or Concordia to treat our field like a home game.
It would be great if visitors were at least reluctant to cheer for their team. As our soccer teams enter the playoffs, they need our support more now than ever. Here are five things we can do to help out.
First, if you are going to sit on the bench at the end of the soccer field, at least face the game and put down your cell phone long enough to cheer for Vanguard every 10 minutes. I know many of you go there to socialize, but that is what class time is for.
Try sitting in the stands, which are usually filled with visitors. At a game this year I sat in the middle of visitors and cheered for Vanguard. They told me to move, since, and I quote, “all the bleachers are ours.” They suggested I sit on the grass and text message my friends like the rest of the VU fans.
I stood up and told them that this was my school and I will sit where I please. That section of the stands was noticeably quieter after that. Maybe it was because I am really big, or maybe it was because I was wearing a Raiders shirt, which is a way of telling the world that either I have been to prison, or I am close personal friends of those who have.
Take the time to figure out which of the teams on the field is ours. I have been to games where the other team scores a goal, the visitor-filled stands cheer, and VU students stop texting and socializing just long enough to cheer, thinking we had just scored.
Here is a hint: our team’s uniforms are either white, blue, gold, or some combination. Don’t cheer for a team in red, ever.
Cheer loudly and often for our athletes. There have been times this season where my five-year-old was the loudest person cheering the women’s soccer team. My five-year-old! If more VU students cheered, it would drown out the sound of my kids yelling, “no blood, no foul,” or their current favorite: “you’re not hurt.” For the record, they get that kind of language from their mother.
Finally, we could put up a big sign at home games that says, “Welcome to Vanguard University. Jesus loves you and so do we. But don’t push it.”