The Daily Gamecock

Column: USC students are taking advantage of the Cockpit points system

<p>Gamecock students enter through the security scanners before the ticketing checkpoint at the student entrance of Colonial Life Arena on Nov. 28, 2023. Attendance to various school athletic events gives students the opportunity to obtain a higher chance to get tickets through the Cockpit app in the future. </p>
Gamecock students enter through the security scanners before the ticketing checkpoint at the student entrance of Colonial Life Arena on Nov. 28, 2023. Attendance to various school athletic events gives students the opportunity to obtain a higher chance to get tickets through the Cockpit app in the future.

Students don’t really care about sports outside of football, and the Cockpit points system has the receipts to prove it.

As the football season has drawn to a close with a tantalizing defeat to Clemson, it is time to analyze whether or not students were truly loyal to all of the student athletes this fall. It is well rumored that students attend non-football sports matches just to get Cockpit points, and after talking to more than 40 students, the rumors were confirmed true. 

Contrary to what students might believe, the system was not built to be a device to distribute football points to students who show up to the first five minutes of a swim meet. According to Gamecocks Online, the points system was actually made as a way to show thanks to students who were already very loyal to their teams. When used correctly, it is actually a fairly decent way to promote and encourage this athletic loyalty. 

So, this taking advantage of what the system was designed to do is not only cowardly of students, it is disrespectful to the athletes who they supposedly "support." It provides a false sense of school pride.

The Cockpit system is simple: go to fall sports games, get a point; the more points earned, the more likely a student is to get a ticket to the student section for Saturday football games. 

Seems like a foolproof process, right? Students get to earn their points for football tickets, and in the process get to support other athletic teams. Everyone is happy because everyone wins. 

Unfortunately, this is not necessarily the case. No one wins. In fact, everyone loses.

First and foremost, the athletes lose. These athletes, who work just as hard as the beloved Beamer football team, are forced to watch their crowd of so-called supportive students slowly dwindle as they exhaust themselves during their match. They don't deserve that unfair, immature behavior. If students show up to the game, they should have the decency to stay for more than half the contest. 

However, what goes more unnoticed is that the students are actually doing a disservice to themselves for skipping out on these games and matches. Carolina has so much more to offer than football. Our equestrian team alone holds five of out the university's eleven national titles. But, no one knows that, because football is treated as if it is religion during the fall semester, so all other sports fall to the back burner. 

Perhaps this massive loyalty to 'Saturdays in South Carolina' is because of the drinking culture that surrounds college football, the spectacle that is Williams-Brice under the lights or the fact that SEC football just means more here because it is steeped in such rich tradition

Regardless of the reason for it, the fervor for the American pastime still reigns supreme today. Week after week, “The Cockpit” student section is packed to the brim with eager Gamecock football fans wishing for a dominant South Carolina victory. 

However, with an enrollment of over 27,000 undergraduate students alone, and only 13,000 out of the more than 77,000 seats in Williams-Brice Stadium reserved for those students, who gets to decide which Gamecocks get a spot in “The Cockpit”? The answer lies in the beloved and sovereign Cockpit points system. 

The problem with this system lies not within the system itself —  as it is a fairly decent way of promoting athletic loyalty. The problem lies within the students’ motivations.

Out of 46 students interviewed, 35 said that their main motivation for going to volleyball or soccer games was to get the extra point for the football game on Saturday.

Several students at a women’s volleyball game answered without hesitation that they were there for the point, and none seemed too ashamed to say it.

Many students also said they leave in the middle of the game, which is arguably just as bad as not showing up to the match at all since it causes a disruption for the athletes trying to perform their best and disturbs the loyal fans who plan to stay and support the athletes until the final whistle blows. 

Alan Nguyen, a first-year history student, said that his decision on whether or not to stay until the end of the match depends on if it’s a good game or not. 

His friend, first-year pre-business student Carson Matheny, said “if we’re up by two or it’s a tie, sometimes we’ll stay.” 

Keone Hollen, a first-year nursing student, said that she and her friends often leave at halftime just to get dinner.

"If it makes it feel better, I leave the football games during halftime, too," first-year nursing student Cailin Frederick said.   

It’s obvious that many students try to cheat the system by staying for as little time as possible to get their point. But why? Students who do this clearly don't have a true love of the sport, or else they would stick it through. So if the game isn't the reason that Willy-B's student stands get packed every week, it must just be for the football culture. 

However, what students don't realize is that each Carolina team has a culture, a rich one at that, that needs to be explored. Volleyball players dance on the sideline in between sets, and swimmers bark at their teammates in the water. Sports culture is beautiful, and it exists outside of the football vacuum.

However, not all hope is lost. There are some students out there that simply go to the games because they love watching them. Caitlyn Bulford, a first-year elementary education student, said her main motivation for attending the game was to actually watch the contest.

“Volleyball is amazing,” Bulford said. 

Rodney Payden, a first-year theater student even stretched as far to say that South Carolina was a "volleyball school." 

Lilly Huiet, a first-year international business student, said many students try to "skirt" the system, but said that the Cockpit is a valid system. 

"I think the point system is overall really good," Huiet said. "I think overall, it's very beneficial to our sports ... otherwise, no one goes to women's sports." 

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Gabrielle Brault, a first-year international business student said the system at least encourages attendance for part of the game. 

"For the first set, we have a lot more [volleyball] supporters than any other school would have."  Brault said.

But that is only for the first set. By the second set of the game, the gym looks deserted.

At the very least students can pretend like they care and stay in the gym for the duration of the game. Perhaps that would encourage some consideration and appreciation for our other athletic teams and maybe, just maybe, it can grow the culture of our other sports. 

Nevertheless, it is obvious why most people go to these weeknight volleyball and soccer games, but to do it all to see a team that ended their season 5-7 and just above Vanderbilt in the SEC East? It's probably not even worth it.