Head football coach Mike Haywood is wasting no time in rekindling support for Miami University’s football team. Wednesday he announced his plan to have players live in residence halls all over campus instead of concentrated on North Quad. No more than five players will be allowed to live in a single residence hall and no two players will share a room. The editorial board of The Miami Student believes that this measure is a practical and creative way to revive the faltering school spirit behind the program.
Requiring players to live in different residence halls and among the student body will encourage game attendance. As players make a network of friends, they will simultaneously grow their own fan base. Students who know players personally are more likely to go to a game to support them. The hope is that they’ll bring friends too. Making players more visible on campus, and letting people get to see the team as fellow students not just names and jersey numbers, will certainly help spur support. Still, the process will not move forward automatically. The players will have to make an effort and reach out to the students who live around them. The students, for their part, will have to be receptive.
The living requirement will also help to increase on-campus diversity by mixing the student-athletes, many of whom are from out-of-state, among their student peers. Yet, living among students who are not also athletes could potentially present a challenge. While any student might have to deal with roommate conflicts, if players are assigned to live with roommates who have divergent priorities, the repercussions of the resulting situation could disrupt the entire team. The unique lifestyle of a student-athlete will require respectful consideration by his roommate. The players have grueling schedules with early mornings. So any late night activity that disturbs the player could have a negative impact on his performance. Also, requiring the players to live apart from one another might affect team cohesiveness.
Even so, roommate problems are a part of the college experience and recourse can be taken. And the players will be training together, which will allow sufficient time for team bonding. Overall, the plan is strong and demonstrates not just Haywood’s understanding of the difficulties the program is facing but also his ability to craft applicable solutions.