Nearly two weeks ago, the first football game of the season had a sell-out crowd of 32, 119 people. The UH Cougars hosted the Texas State Bobcats and dominated, as pretty much everyone to set foot on the UH campus this week has heard. The cheers of “GO COOGS” could be heard in every corner of the university, from Moody Towers to the M.D. Anderson Library. Everybody and their friends seemed to show up, even some from out of town.
That same evening though, at another sports venue, less than half a mile from Robertson Stadium, the volleyball team hosted its first invitational of the season. They played at least 10 sets collectively against three different teams from Tennessee, Oklahoma and Florida. Every time the Cougars scored, the scattered yells of “POINT HOUSTON” barely made it out of the Athletic Alumni Center’s lobby. The audience looked to be no more than 300 people, mostly consisting of bored-looking family members and guys interested in the wonders of spandex shorts.
Why is there such a vast difference in interest?
The reasons might have their origins rooted in culture, or maybe it’s just another matter of not enough marketing. It is interesting that students know the name of their star quarterback, Case Keenum, without ever hearing the name Lucy Charuk. Her performance on the UH volleyball team merited a selection to the Houston Invitational all-tournament team for the second time in a row. This shows some facts that are obvious and glaring: volleyball just doesn’t get the same love and support as football at UH.
The seeming lack of interest in volleyball doesn’t seem to be from lack of understanding game rules either. At the football games, there are plenty female students that still don’t know what a “first down” means or the difference between a “tackle” and a “sack.” But still, girls and guys alike, young and old, flock to the stadium. They tailgate in the parking lot hours before, discuss the players and swelter in the heat. Then they paint their faces, heckle the opposing team and spend long minutes waiting in line to buy some nachos and a Coke. In volleyball games though, terms such as “dig” or “kill” are used, and the crowd could care less what they mean.
It cannot be that students do not want to pay admission, either. It is free, and it is being paid for with student fees, just like the football games. In fact, it will be guaranteed easier seating with better views closer to the actual players. Honestly, it’s possible to go ahead and give the volleyball players a high-five as they run by on their way to the court.
There is one fact, though, that has not been mentioned yet — the elephant in the room, so to speak. The UH volleyball team is exclusively female. The football team is all male. Maybe it really is just this chick-flick mentality that keeps the stadium packed and the court less than full. Football is an All-American sport that both guys and girls can enjoy, while women’s volleyball is still working on its reputation.
It is not as if there is a need for sell-out crowds at the next volleyball game. All that is needed is an awareness that the game is actually going on and that it might actually be enjoyable to watch once or twice. UH is not just about football, believe it or not. While football is what makes us proud and increases our reputation as an outstanding school, it is the minor sports that solidify us as truly diverse.
In the end, we will always be made up of a collection of talented athletes excelling in multiple sports with the same amount of Cougar pride.
Bethel Glumac is a communications sophomore and may be reached at email@example.com.