Column: Time To Start Filling Up The Stands During Basketball Games
Published: Sunday, November 4, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
I am not a hockey fan.
Yes, I’m proud of the fact that our team is so successful, and I certainly enjoy the few games I attend each year. But I can’t lie to myself and pretend I have a love for the sport. For me, Boston College making the Sweet 16, or winning a major bowl game, would be much more exciting than our hockey team winning a national championship.
I’m not alone in this assertion. There’s a substantial amount of people that consider there to be three major sports: football, basketball, and baseball. Those three are far and away the most watched, covered, and talked about sports in the country.
The website Deadspin runs a weekly feature that tracks how often sports and players are discussed on each night’s 11 p.m. Sportscenter. Through the first 10 months of the year, MLB has consisted of 19.7 percent of SC’s coverage, with the NBA at 19.5 percent, and the NFL at 19.4 percent. College basketball is fourth with 7.7 percent, and next is college football at 4.8 percent. As for hockey, the NHL is at 3.3 percent, while college hockey is grouped into the “other sports category.”
ESPN’s signature show gives a revealing gauge of the average fan’s psyche. At BC, we have over 9,000 undergraduates—so I know you’re out there, basketball fans. Yet there are consistently rows and rows of empty seats in our student section during basketball games. It’s completely unacceptable for a Division I program. If you call yourself a true sports fan, you should be embarrassed, as I am, that you currently attend a university that draws a median average of fewer than 100 students a game.
Now, I understand the logic that says the better the product, the more fans will attend—the team went 9-22 last year. But essentially the same amount of fans showed up to basketball games during my freshman year in 2010, when we won 20 games and were on the bubble of making the NCAA Tournament.
If living up to your title as a sports fan isn’t enough, here are four more reasons to attend basketball games at Conte this year:
1. Basketball’s one of the best sports to watch in person. You’re so close to the floor, which provides a completely different experience than viewing the game on TV. The court seems smaller in person, and you can see the pure physicality of the game and the players. The crowd reactions to dunks, 3-pointers (which we should have plenty of this year), and buzzer beaters are hard to top.
2. While BC is likely to finish in the middle of the ACC, the competition we play in the league is second to none. We host Duke and North Carolina this season, as well as No. 6 NC State. The two best college basketball programs of all time will be coming to campus—a true sports fan will be excited to attend both games.
3. We can grow up with these players. The primary reason the team fell to such depths last year was because of age—we had four freshman starters, making up the youngest team in the entire country. With a year of experience, and the addition of solid freshman guards and transfers, our rotation should be much improved. As the players mature both physically and mentally under the tutelage of head coach Steve Donahue, expect the squad to take a huge leap. And unlike other schools, where players leave after a year or two for the NBA, we’ll be able to watch these players for three or four years.
4. You should support your school. It’s commendable that we all went to football games this year even though the team was terrible. I understand that football is a sacred tradition on campus that everyone partakes in, and it’s easy to get a group of friends together to hang out during the game.
Why not try to duplicate that culture at basketball games? The sport is exciting enough to be enjoyed by fans as much as football and hockey are. The problem, though, is that games aren’t seen as an event on campus. It’s hard to gather people to go because barely anyone buys season tickets. And with the student section close to empty, some students choose to sit in the stands instead.
This is where Donahue’s Disciples comes in. They’re a dedicated group of BC basketball fans who attend every game, start chants, and have great enthusiasm for the program. For anyone out there who has tickets but can’t find a friend to head to a game with, the Disciples will be happy to have you. They set up shop in the first couple of rows near the home basket—you can’t miss them.
The goal for the program should be to fill the student section for every game, and create a Superfan culture similar to football and hockey games. I understand that’s unrealistic for this season. But even if we could get halfway there, it would provide such an improvement of what we currently have. Players feed off our energy in the stands, and visiting recruits want to see a great atmosphere when they visit campus. Fan participation has a direct impact on the success of the program.
If you’re reading this column, I know you’re a sports fan. Come out and support your basketball team this season. We have a great Division I program on campus, and we’d like to keep it that way. The players and coaches deserve better than to have rows of empty seats in the student section. It’s up to you to start taking your responsibility of being a sports fan seriously by showing up to these games. Once you do, you might just like what you find.