Where do they stand?

Mark Caruso (aka Bataglia) is one of the more devout youthful Rutgers fans in the Garden State. However, Mark, unlike most of his fellow present-day classmates is somewhat of an anomaly in voicing public support of his state university. Or is he? Mark decided to put the idea of today's youthful support for the athletic programs at Rutgers to test by conducting an informal survey of some of his classmates - what do today's adolescents feel about Rutgers athletics?

When Greg Schiano came to Rutgers University in 2001, he started heavily recruiting in New Jersey and Florida.  But part of his plan of building a solid New Jersey foundation was not to see today's  teenagers walking around in Miami and Florida apparel.  Why is it such a rare sight to see a teenager wearing a Rutgers t-shirt?  Most kids would tell you to look no further than their win-loss column. 

The objective of this article was to see, why or why not, so many of New Jersey's teenagers are not interested in Rutgers Athletics.  I went about this by taking a survey from forty New Jersey high school students, mostly freshman.  I asked them numerous questions relating to Rutgers Athletics, and received a wide variety of answers.  The questions used in the survey follow:

1. Do you consider yourself a college sports fan (during the college season do you watch at least one game per week)?

2. Do you consider yourself a Rutgers fan? [Y or N]

If they replied yes to question 2, I moved onto asking questions 3, 4, and 5.  If they answered no to question 2, I skipped straight to 6, 7, and 8.

3. Have either of your parents attended Rutgers for college? [Y or N]

4. Has an older sister/brother attended Rutgers for college? [Y or N]

5. Have any family members, other than those specified above, attended Rutgers for college? [Y or N]

6. Do you consider yourself to not be a fan because of Rutgers' record in previous years? [Y or N]

7. Is it important for you to root for a school that consistently wins? [Y or N]

8. If Rutgers were to start winning would you consider becoming a fan?

Text Box: Yes Replies


1. 68% (27 out of 40)

Text Box: No Replies


1. 32%

2. 48% (13 out of 27)

2. 52%

3.  8% (1 out of 13)

3. 92%

4. 31% (4 out of 13)

4. 69%

5. 62% (8 out of 13)

5. 38%

6. 14% (2 out of 14)

6. 86%

7. 36% (5 out of 14)

7. 64%

8. 43% (6 out of 14)

8. 57%

Table 1. Percentage of those surveyed answering yes or no for each question.  All decimals were rounded to the nearest hundredth.  Questions 3-6 were applicable only to those that answered yes to question 2.  Questions 6-8 were applicable only to those that answered no to question 2.

Based on the survey, 75% of New Jersey teenagers said they follow college sports on a weekly basis (the assumption of one college football game being watched per week was made so as to not severely limit the sample size).   A big contributor to why this percentage is not higher could be due to all of the pro team exposure around the tri-state area.  Why would a teenager want to go see a college football or basketball game when he can go to the Meadowlands instead?  Add in the fact that Rutgers hasn't had a winning [football] season in years, and you are left with a big problem. 

Of those that answered yes to question #1 (in other words, those that consider themselves college fans) 48% considered themselves Rutgers football fans.  From the data I received from my survey I noticed that the main reason teenagers aren't interested in Rutgers athletics is not because of the constant losing record Rutgers has been plagued with.  Of those that do not consider themselves Rutgers fans, 14% stated that Rutgers won-loss record was a main reason for their lack of following.  However, if Rutgers were to start winning 43% of those currently not fans, would consider becoming a fan. 

Some teens would ask others why they even are a Rutgers fan.  Most kids' replies would be that it runs in the family.  Five out of thirteen that are Rutgers fans (38%), have immediate family that attends or attended Rutgers University (brother, sister, or parents).  Many would ask why don't these kids just try and convert others into becoming RU fans.  Well it just isn't that easy.  Speaking from my own experience, it is hard enough to get one or two kids to come along with you to the game on Saturday, for free!!  They couldn't be bothered.  But, tell them Michigan State or Miami is coming to town, and they're in the car before I can even walk out the door.

It's tough to walk into the halls of high school with a Rutgers jersey.  Getting harassed by fellow students isn't the worst of it.  Try walking into a classroom where the teacher is a die hard Maryland fan and graduate.  Any and every opportunity in class is used to poke fun at Rutgers athletics.  I just tell them don't ask me for tickets when we are playing in a bowl game.  That usually ends up with a remark such as: "First they need to get seven wins to even be eligible."

According to my survey a good way to start converting teenagers into Rutgers fans, is for the team to start winning.  Although only 14%  of those applicable stated Rutgers' won-loss record was a primary reason, many (43%) people said that when the wins start coming, they would consider being fans.  So let's go RU and let's start winning!

Mike and the Big Dog LLC

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