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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

11/27/23 pdf
November 27, 2023

Spirits of the crowd: Should UMass Boston have a football team?

Many students’ experience of college includes the loud roar of fellow peers as they chant for a team, the spinning of a floating ball in the air as tension rises, and a player sprinting down the field as they inch closer to scoring a touchdown. It includes two feet landing down on the hard turf while the crowd roars with excitement, and a camaraderie in the stands as their team wins another football game. This is something that many incoming college students look for: a sense of school spirit. Football is one of the best ways this can happen, as students from different walks of life can come together for one common goal—defeating the rival university and winning the game. 

I have never personally been to a football game in my life, but I do have friends who went to my high school’s football games. We were never really a good team, and more than likely we were going to lose, but that did not stop many students from showing up in whatever spirit wear theme was selected for that particular game. It brought joy for the students, even if we were down 30 points by halftime, because they found the game enjoyable. It was a way for them to take a break from the stresses of life and high school and just enjoy quality time with family and friends. As a result, I have always wanted to go to a football game for myself to get that experience.

This makes it unfortunate that UMass Boston does not currently have a football team. We actually used to have one: from 1988 to 2000, we played in Division III of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, according to Wikipedia (1). To go back even further, when UMass Boston was named Boston State College, we had another football team from 1972 to 1982, when BSC later became UMass Boston. 

Serving under the Commonwealth Coast Football Conference, three separate coaches led the last football program in UMass Boston: Jim Kent, Gus Giardi and Paul Castonia. Kent was able to start the program on a rocky start, winning four games in 1990-1991 and five games in 1992. However, the program quickly fell apart, eventually winning only one game in its last year of existence under the coaching of Paul Castonia in 2000. After this lackluster performance, the football program was dissolved and has remained so to this day.

This is disappointing, as I find that two of the major criteria potential students look for when choosing a college is a strong athletic program and school spirit, both of which football can provide to a university. Students tend to support their team no matter what, because it brings people from different backgrounds together and allows them to bond over something that breaks up the monotony of college life—like having to work, study and balance relationships between friends and family. Other universities, such as Boston College, Boston University, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, among others, have a program as well. UMass Amherst and UMass Dartmouth also contain a football program; only UMass Boston and UMass Lowell, in the UMass system, do not have a current football program.

One major reason for this is the lack of financial funding given to maintain a football program. Not only does a football team need to pay their staff, but they need to maintain a stadium, turf and handle the upkeep of merch, among other things. This can stress out a university that has already been struggling financially, which we’ve seen in the development of Dorchester Bay City, the increase in tuition and parking rates for students. 

With the addition of a football program, there would also be issues about where to put a field, especially since we currently use the soccer field at Boston College High School for many of our home games, including baseball, lacrosse and soccer. We have our own softball field, although it lacks seating for both home and visitor guests, as well as the Clark Athletic Center for basketball. Interestingly enough, we used to have a football field near Clark Athletic Center when the last football program was commissioned. 

Today, the best way we could implement a football field is to turn Lot D into a field or turn the current demolition of the Calf Pasture Pumping Station into the same thing. This could, however, be an issue of safety with the dorms being nearby and the off-campus apartments near those dorms. There is also the issue of noise, which could cause nearby residents to complain or cause people to lose valuable sleep and focus. 

In addition to this, the Little East Conference, the National Collegiate Athletics Division III league we are currently under, does not currently endorse football as one of its recognized sports. This means we would need to find another league specifically for this sport that would allow the university in, which may add a financial strain to a university that is already tackling major renovations and other services essential to running the campus. 

On the other hand, this may drive extra revenue for the university, which can then be reinvested back into both the Bay City project, the campus and the various programs that need reinvestment, like the Africana Studies Department. There would be increased school spirit and students could enjoy seeing a game that is prevalent among colleges. The field could also be used as a multi-purpose field, desired for sports such as track and field, lacrosse and soccer instead of having to work around the schedule of Boston College High School. 

Events could also be held on the field when not in use to make it useful year-round, instead of having to sit idly in the winter. By investing in a football stadium, there would be a general uplift and increase in positive energy around campus, which is currently bogged down by the construction of the quad and the renovations to the exterior of McCormack Hall, Wheatley Hall and Healey Library. We would also have a field for graduation instead of having to find a space for it. Most importantly, though, is the fact that this would serve as a beacon for students and a retreat from college life for those who may want one. 

There would be, of course, issues that would need to be addressed: avoiding hazing and illegal activities among the players and students, having constant police presence at the games, and a continuing support of students, staff and fellow residents that surround the UMass Boston campus. We would also want to make sure that the other sports UMass Boston offers for students are accurately served and avoid making football our main focus of funding. In addition, all other aspects of college life are important as well, so they would need to maintain their funding. 

So, should we have a football team? There is no easy solution for this question. I am both against and for it. While it would be beneficial to students as a whole, would it be worth it in the long run? Is it worth the extensive amount of money and resources needed to start one up? There are cons and pros to having one, and we, as students and investors in UMass Boston, must make a decision together on whether a football program would benefit us and to what extent it would do so. I know many students who want a program and never get a chance to catch a game on campus, yet others may say that adding one would remove attention from other sports and may be more of a hassle to read than anything else. One thing is for certain, though: sports will continue to flourish in UMass Boston, whether we invest in one or not. It is a matter of what is best moving forward for the school that we love.

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UMass_Boston_Beacons_football