North Texas Daily

Basketball teams deal with low attendance

Basketball teams deal with low attendance

Basketball teams deal with low attendance
December 01
23:52 2014

Jesse Brackeen / Intern Writer

UNT is home to a student body of more than 36,000. The Super Pit, where the basketball teams play, is located within a 10-minute walk of most residence halls and seats just under 10,000.

However, on game days, there are a lot of empty seats. The average attendance for women’s basketball through its four home games is 1,459, while the average attendance for men’s basketball through five home games is 1,599.

SGA president Troy Elliott said the lack of attendance is indicative of a larger problem at UNT.

“There is a lack of pride amongst the student body when it comes to UNT in general,” Elliott said. “One of the biggest problems with that is, as you know, athletics.”

Elliott said part of the reason for the lack of attendance at games is because of apathy toward the university.

“For a lot of students, UNT was their second choice,” Elliott said. “And as a result of that lack of pride, you can walk out of Stovall right now and see three people in another university’s shirt or hoodie. That sucks, it really does. As a result of that, there is lack of participation in the student body.” 

Eric Capper, the senior associate athletic director for media relations, said he thinks the size of a crowd can affect the results on the court or field.

“I would challenge anyone to find a college athlete in any sport at any university that would tell you that they don’t love to play in front of a great crowd,” Capper said. “So yes, I think it does have an effect.”

Capper said despite the lack of fan turnout, the teams are still committed to playing as well as possible.

“They see the big picture. They don’t let [attendance] affect them. They are going to continue to do what they do game in and game out, from a performance standpoint,” Capper said. “But to say that they wouldn’t rather have the Super Pit sold out or even half full, no, I think it definitely increases their drive.”

Nicholas Williams, who directs the basketball pep band, said student involvement could have a direct effect on athletes, and he hopes attendance will improve.

“It affects the student athletes and spirit groups to a certain extent, without a doubt I know that we would like to see more student participation at all of the athletic events, not just basketball,” Williams said. “As we get further into the season, we’ll hopefully see an increase in attendance.”

Sports such as soccer and volleyball have had winning seasons and success over the past few seasons. Capper said the goal of the athletics program is to achieve a level of sustained success in order to get fans to show more pride.

“I hope that our fans understand that the success we have had in football and our other programs, we expect, will last for a long time to come,” Capper said.

Elliott said the temporary success is part of the reason that students display minimal pride and avoid attending sporting events.

“UNT doesn’t have spirits and traditions that have stood the test of time. Our name has changed three different times. The only thing that has remained is Boomer the Cannon,” Elliott said.  “Besides that, there isn’t much that alumni can come back to and feel like they have a connection to spirit and tradition.”

Elliott said he thinks attendance at sporting events such as basketball will improve once the athletic program reaches that sustained success. 

“There is a degree of apathy for a majority of students,” Elliott said. “I do not think there will a change until there is a change with our athletic programs. Period. Until athletics reflects progress like big schools across the nation, no. There will not be spirit, tradition and pride with students until we can win games.”

Featured Image: The Coliseum is sparsely filled with fans during the women’s basketball game against Northern Colorado University of Nov. 17. Average attendance for the women’s games this season is 1,459 fans. Photo by Edward Balusek – Visuals Editor

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