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For a Division I state university, football is king.
It’s what defines an athletic department’s image, and it’s what shapes the attitudes and pride of the student body.
But for the University of Colorado, that pride can and should be based on so much more than football. Across many varsity and club sports, CU student-athletes are representing their university with hard work and success. These athletes deserve the recognition that CU football is given no matter the record.
The CU football team currently stands 1-5 on the season, falling most recently to Arizona State University 51-17 at home on national television. The stands were nearly empty by the end of the night, representing the fatigue CU football enthusiasts are beginning to feel with every Buff shortcoming.
The following evening, fans of CU basketball filled the stands of the Coors Events Center for the first-ever Buffs Madness event, a pep rally kicking off the upcoming men’s and women’s varsity seasons. The Buffs men were the Pac-12 Conference champions last season and were selected into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003, advancing to the third round.
This season’s squad boasts one of its best-ever freshman recruiting classes, offering the possibility of continued improvement. The “C-Unit” student section was even voted one of the highest-ranked student sections in the country by the Naismith Board last year. Fan allegiance to Colorado basketball is stunning, and it continues to grow each year.
The women’s basketball team began last season with a spark, going undefeated for 12 straight preseason games and winning their conference opener. The Buffs finished the season 6-12 in conference play and 21-14 overall, advancing through three rounds of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament before falling in the quarterfinals to Oklahoma State University.
But even lesser-publicized CU sports have been thriving on the national stage. If the CU men’s cross-country team were given the same attention as CU football, the Buff community would be teeming with pride. Last weekend, the men won the team title at the NCAA Pre-National Invitational, a “preview” of November’s national championship. With the win, the Buffs moved from seventh to second in the national coaches’ poll.
Come winter, CU’s most winning varsity team, the skiers, will work towards an 18th NCAA national team title. The CU ski team has earned 25 RMISA championships and produced 50 Olympians, seven Hall of Fame members and 83 individual NCAA Champions, the most of any university.
At the club level, the CU triathlon, swim and freestyle ski times all picked up national titles last year. With no NCAA scholarship funding or varsity status, these Buffs’ wins often go unnoticed and uncelebrated among the wider CU community.
All of this is not to say that CU football should be disregarded. Football will remain the most widely-attended, widely-funded and widely-publicized sport at the university, and members of the CU community should continue to support the Buffs. It’s not always fun to root for a losing team, but it also reflects poorly on the school if the entire community of Buffs are fair-weather fans.
So Buff fans, don’t give up on Colorado football. The team is only partway through its second season with a new head coach and a new conference. A mid-season rally is not out of reach, and it could spark that lacking football pride anew. But recognize your cross-country athletes’ successes, and look forward to greeting your basketball and skiing Buffs later this year. Fill the Coors Events Center with that energy and vigor for which the “C-Unit” has become nationally known, and bring a much-needed dose of Buff pride back to the University of Colorado.
Photo credit: (CU Independent/James Bradbury)