This archived article was written by: Hailey Evans
Many major college basketball programs nationwide continue to battle declining student attendance, and smaller two-year colleges are no exception. We are a nation that loves watching sports, so why not come out and support USU Eastern athletics? On Saturday, Feb. 10, when USU Eastern played North Idaho College, the student section didn’t even seem to exist. Students are often complaining that there are not enough activities around campus, and that student life is boring, but when there is a big home game, few attend.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, student attendance is declining nationwide. But what is causing this decline in fan participation?
When some USU Eastern students were asked about this issue, the general response was that they didn’t know when the games were. Nick Rukavina, a freshman from Price, responded “I would go to the games, I just never know when they are. I feel like if they advertised at common places, like the BDAC, or if they had a big marquee or something that everyone would notice, more kids would be aware of when they are and more would come. Also, I think they should offer some type of incentives for students who do go, like free drinks or something.”
Other students, including Ashley Noyes, Chase Carbonneau, and Kenzie Mantz, all from Price, say they have other obligations that they have to meet, so they are not able to make it out to the games.
Samantha Nielson, a sophomore from Springville, Utah, who has attended basketball games before, said, “I feel like the games are boring because there is no student involvement, and because not a lot of our students go.”
Miranda Cox, the Vice President of Activities, said that student government has been making a conscious effort to find solutions to this issue. She says that because fan attendance does not fall to a single cause, there are many little issues they are looking to improve. It is an evolving process that will take time before there is a great improvement seen. This semester, they have been trying to establish a firm foundation to build upon for the upcoming years. For example, student government fueled the rivalry between USU Eastern and Snow when approximately 30 students were bused to the away game, and an invitation was extended to their student body to come to our school. The badgers responded positively, as seen at the home game on Feb. 1. The school’s mascot, Emmett, has done a great job with entertaining the crowd this year as well. Student government wants our athletes to feel that they’re supported by the student body, but as Cox said, “The hardest part is trying to find how to make students want to come.”
Todd Helgesen, who is playing his second year of USU Eastern basketball, said “We are a lot better team at home than we are on the road. Having fans at the games gives us an overall advantage knowing we have that support.” The stats speak for themselves. On the road, the Golden Eagles lost to CSI 103-59, when at home, they barely lost by 2 points, having the game end 79-77, and back in December, USU Eastern actually defeated CSI 95-85 at home.
CSI is ranked the second best team in the country, and USU Eastern’s Golden Eagles were nationally ranked as well, so obviously there is some real talent out there on the court. It is also apparent that crowd support can be a driving force to help bring teams to wins, and for those attending USU Eastern, cost of admittance is free with a student ID. Is this not enough incentive for our students, faculty, and community to come out and watch these games?
Promotions are a big enticement for increasing college sports attendance. For example, Kansas State offers free bacon for students starting at 4:45. They say it makes the arena smell better than sweat, sneakers, and soda. Word of this promotion spread so quickly on social media that Kansas State had to triple its order! It’s college, and we all know that college kids love free food. Other universities have gave VIP parking passes and cash incentives to entice the students to come out to games. So there are ways to get students out to games, but what is it going to take for USU Eastern to build the student section?