People go to every game … only if the team is winning. The stands are packed … only if it’s a game against a team from a big school. Carloads of students show up to cheer on their team … only if it’s a tournament game.
It should, because that’s what student attendance at Division I games at Elon University look like. Regular season games get little to no student attendance, unless it’s a game against a big school — and that attendance may come more from the other school than Elon. Tournament games bring in more fans, but these students who crowd into Alumni Gym or line the fence at Rudd Field are conspicuously absent the rest of the season.
The fair-weather attitude many Elon students have toward D-I sports shows a lack of commitment and enthusiasm. It implies that students like and can appreciate Elon sports, but only if they’re winning. It implies that students can appreciate the hours of effort D-I student-athletes put into their sport only if they make it to the post-season tournament.
Last week, men’s soccer made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. They also earned Elon’s first-ever NCAA Tournament victory. For that game, played against Winthrop University Nov. 19, students and fans packed Rudd Field, cheering the Phoenix on.
A slightly higher attendance for tournament games is to be expected, but last year, when the team went 9-6-4 — for those of us unfamiliar with sports lingo, that’s nine wins, six losses and four ties — Elon didn’t make the NCAA’s list of attendance leaders, meaning the average attendance to games was less than 810 per home game.
The year before, when men’s soccer also made it to the NCAA tournament but tied with Clemson University in the first round, average attendance was 1,090 per home game. That season, 2013, the team went 15-5-3.
According to Elon’s official athletic site, 2,419 people attended this season’s game against Winthrop. A home game earlier in the season, the Oct. 7 conference game against Northeastern University, saw 625 attendees. At that point in the season, the Phoenix was 9-2-0.
As basketball season starts, remember that regardless of their game record, the men and women playing on the court are our classmates and friends. They represent Elon and deserve our support.
We’re more than able of supporting our teams, as seen in record turnouts for tournament games. Let’s make that attendance more consistent throughout the season and make Elon a school that supports its athletics.