Trinh: A call to revitalize Stanford’s Sixth Man

Jan. 15, 2015, 10:40 p.m.

Because I am from the Deep South where the SEC is practically in my backyard, I have always been a sports enthusiast. Football has been a continual favorite, but I follow most other sports as well because I was raised to believe that they are a way of life. The big three — football, basketball, and baseball — are always the go-to topics of conversation at any social setting, so in order to keep up with the social norm, my family seemed to always have the television on ESPN.

From a very young age, I knew that regardless of where I was accepted, I would attend a university recognized for both the academics and the sports. Imagine my surprise when I received my (utterly unanticipated) acceptance letter from Stanford University, which is celebrated for its triumphs in NCAA Division I sports.

The first Stanford game I attended was the Army football game the Friday before NSO [New Student Orientation]. Arriving relatively early to get good seats, I brushed off the eerie feeling that I was Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Dressed in the standard Southern sports attire of a red dress and cowboy boots, I certainly stood out. That was the first indication that I was not in Georgia Bulldog Country anymore.

As the colossal scoreboard counted down the time remaining until the start of the game, I noticed that my father and I seemed to be the only Cardinal fans in our assigned section. It’s no big deal because we’re just really early, I thought. At kickoff, however, I still saw more open seats than fans in the seats.

Red flag.

Yet, I brushed it off. School had not started yet, most of the students were not on campus, and Army is not a big rival. Little did I know that this game reflected fan attendance at most Stanford games regardless of the sport.

Before winter quarter officially began, I decided to attend my first Stanford basketball game: the men’s game against Washington. Because the (lack of) fan culture had mentally grown on me, originally, I did not want to go watch the game. Unfortunately, my initial attitude mirrors the mentality of most Stanford students.

Blasphemous in the South, but accepted at Stanford.

Nevertheless, the offer of a free “6th Man” t-shirt enticed me, so I biked to Maples Pavilion with a couple of friends. To my disbelief, I could not find a rack to lock my bike, and I stood in line for four minutes to scan my ID card. The line was nothing compared to a Duke vs. North Carolina basketball game where students religiously camp out for weeks in advance in the phenomenon known as Krzyzewskiville, but I was surprised that there was a wait, albeit a relatively short one. Still, a part of me wanted to see tents.

Once I entered the arena, I ran straight toward the table giving away the free t-shirts. I noticed that several students had quickly snatched their t-shirts and promptly left the stadium, but my inner sports conscience demanded that I stay. The amount of students in the 6th Man section was greater than expected, but there were numerous empty spaces where fans should have been. Although the game was neck-and-neck, the number slowly trickled; however, those who decided to stay for the end of the game were rewarded with a suspenseful competition that concluded in a W for the Card in overtime.

Both upcoming home matchups against UConn, the defending NCAA champion, and Arizona, the regular season Pac-12 champion, are sure to be two of the best games at Maples this season. I have already received two emails from Stanford Athletics advertising the two games and promising free t-shirts to the first 2,000 attendees of the UConn game and free rally towels to the first 3,000 attendees of the Arizona game.

Although Stanford’s student body consists of about 7,000 undergraduates and 10,000 graduates, I feel inclined to doubt that the number of attendees will reach 2,000 especially without the help of fanatics from the other team.

What I have come to realize is that many Stanford students do not appreciate the successfully competitive atmosphere in which our collegiate sports compete, even though Stanford University offers free admission to every home game for its scholars unlike many other colleges.

Stanford’s academics are unparalleled, and I am thankful that I attend such a prestigious university. In some respects, it is excusable that not every single student attends every single home basketball game, and I do not expect all 7,392 seats of Maples to be filled, but it is quite apparent that the 6th Man section has lacked fervor and that needs to change.

If Duke can do it, shouldn’t we be able to?

Elizabeth Trinh, Stanford Athletics’ No. 1 fan, will be at Maples on Saturday night to see the Cardinal take on the Huskies, albeit not in her red dress and cowboy boots. Let her know you’ll be there as well at entrinh ‘at’

Elizabeth Trinh ‘18, who is currently a sophomore sports Desk Editor at The Stanford Daily, works Monday nights with her other half, (formerly Alexa Philippou) Amanda McLean. Hailing from a small town in the Peach State, she enjoys the thrill of writing, but she won't be writing too much this year because she has dedicated her time to other ventures. Although she is currently undecided as to her major, Elizabeth plans on loafing around for the longest time as possible. To contact Elizabeth, please email her at entrinh 'at'

Login or create an account