Homecoming has come and gone, but I'd like to beat a dead horse for a little bit here.
Despite all the media coverage of the "best campus tradition," Spirit Splash is truly the only iconic thing our Homecoming celebration can really brag about. Yeah, it's fun. Yeah, you might pick up athlete's foot. Yeah, it makes for awesome photos, but that's only good for one crowd — the college crowd.
I know that many students think that the world rises and sets on their needs and their tuition money, but we're forgetting a huge demographic when it comes to Homecoming: Alumni.
As an alumni, there is no way I would ever go back to Spirit Splash, and I'm not entirely sure if I'd even be welcome. But that's fine. I can live with that. But what's in it for me to come back to campus and support the school during Homecoming?
Skit night? Nope. Concert Knight? Nope. Comedy Knight? Nope.
Fireworks? Ok, maybe I'll give you that. The fireworks appear to be one of the few events alumni could easily take part in, but I'd rather those be after we win the game.
Call me crazy all you want, but I'm pretty sure even George O'Leary sides with me on this one.
One of O'Leary's biggest complaints about Homecoming is alumni involvement, and duh — I couldn't agree more.
"We have 12 colleges and normally those schools have different events, whether it's the school of education or the school of business, they have people come back, alumni and they have events within the events," O'Leary said in a press conference last week. "Then, the culmination is the football game. I don't know how much the university gets involved … I'm talking about the alumni coming back to campus."
Preach brother, preach.
Sure, I know a ton of alumni who make the trek back to campus every year for Homecoming, but there comes a time and a place where we simply don't fit in. What about those who have kids? Is there a single Homecoming event other than the newly-introduced fireworks display that is truly kid-friendly?
When I was in school, we had the parade. Granted, I never thought it was executed well because it took place early in the morning and nobody's got time for that. But why not bring that back in the afternoon on game day? I mean, does anything get you more pumped than hearing the Marching Knights on their way into the stadium? Wouldn't it be nice to take your little ones to see a parade on campus and point out your sorority's float as it passes by? My little legacy needs to know that Kappa Kappa Gamma can turn chicken wire and a trailer into school spirit, and that getting a high five from a UCF Cheerleader is a memory she'll always have.
Either way, something has to give with Homecoming. We need more alumni involvement, and we need more events that include everyone.
And if this is about money, let me remind you of something. Less than a month after graduating — in the height of the economic recession, mind you — UCF was already calling me and asking me to donate to the school. Alumni give big bucks, and their support is huge. If you don't have proud alumni, you won't have the school spirit it takes to create longstanding traditions. Case closed.
And sorry Spirit Splash, me and my immune system have been over you for awhile.