VAN SCOY: It’s that time of year again…

Luci Van Scoy

When people ask what I’m going to school for, I’m not surprised that most of them have no idea what a major in anthropology means. That’s because more people recognize Iowa State as a football team than an educational institution.

At the start of each school year, the fans go wild with anticipation before the season opener, with almost 50,000 people attending this year’s bout against Kent State. Despite the loss, the second game accommodated a record 56,000 and change. With 26,000 students attending Iowa State this semester, that’s more than half the crowd that isn’t currently enrolled, assuming every student was present.

Where are all these people coming from? They’re down-home born and bred ISU fans – those who buy season tickets every year, drive a few hours to each game and sport their Cyclone gear proudly. Living vicariously through the sport, they try to attach themselves once again to a winning team.

It’s no big surprise to this writer that our biggest fans might be those who are already past their collegiate years, be they alumni or just supporters. And it’s these people, not our team or our students, who keep the tradition of Cyclone football alive. Because what do the students really care about football? We hope we win, but the range of emotions upon receiving the score is limited.

At any rate, so far this season looks like it’s going to be a downer. With new head coach Gene Chizik leading the way, Iowa State has lost its first two games against Kent State and Northern Iowa.

Maybe a team chaplain was a good idea – prayer might be our only answer.

And as much as I hear cheers when we have a great game, silence echoes when we lose. It’s as if it never happened: We’re all spirit here. As if some kind of enthusiasm and stadium attendance, paired with a losing game, makes us winners. We can stand up and proudly say, “Well, we tried.” It’s a totally practical attitude.

Football is the catch-22 here. If we win, we hardly get time to appreciate anything else about our school. If we lose, we’re below the radar until the next game anyway. You may think this is an exaggeration, but ask someone who doesn’t go to school here what’s going on with the Great Ape Trust or the campus police gun debate.

The public wants to see our excellence in the form of the game. It’s the rest of the world’s radar for how well we’re doing. And if we completely suck, well, then our fighting spirit will show them. That spirit goes a long way toward accomplishing some goals, and getting people where they really need to be.

I present to you the concept of Beat Iowa week. All this hard work is done by the Student Alumni Leadership Council to show our good-natured rivalry and the fact that our students are willing to borrow a shirt to get a free meal.

An annual tradition, Beat Iowa is supposed to encompass our school pride – that’s right, completely based on one sport – and how much we support our university.

Kind of like the way Veishea celebrates how far we’ve come in developing our colleges and their resources (read: party!).

It’s almost a joke, the way football is supposed to represent our passion for excellence – by supporting every aspect of the university, we can become well-rounded people who don’t notice a majority of the other great opportunities around us because we’re busy tailgating. For those of you not in the know, that means we get drunk.

Despite what seem to be the detriments of college level and professional sports – biased scholarships, recruiting scandals, injuries, drug use and lack of actual useful career skills, to name a few – I predict a huge turnout this weekend.

Traffic will be a mess, streetlights shut down and cops waving people to available parking lots, students from Iowa State and the U of I mingling and finding parties to crash after the game, taking advantage of the few times a year they come together, and professors lightening the homework load in anticipation of a lazy weekend on the part of the students. My, what a noble celebration.

But after it’s all said and done and you leave this campus, football will be either nonexistent, a hobby or something that means way too much to you when you drive four hours to get your season ticket seat every Saturday. The one thing it most definitely won’t be is important.

– Luci Van Scoy is a junior in

anthropology from Newton.