Crowds stay small for spring sports

Photo by Rachel Anderson

Men’s basketball and football dominate the athletics scene not only at Butler but also at universities across the nation.

Because of this, spring sports often take a back seat to these fall and winter sports no matter how well teams might be doing, and attendance statistics reflect this.

Junior first baseman Pat Gelwicks, a member of the Butler baseball team, said he thinks revenue is a big factor in the turnouts for spring sporting events.

“Football and basketball are the sports that are the moneymakers for the athletic(s) department, and they have bigger facilities because of the number of people who go to their games,” Gelwicks said. “I also think that sports like basketball and football are more publicized, and that’s how it is in other places too.”

According to the NCAA, an average of 7,178 people attended each Butler men’s basketball game at Hinkle Fieldhouse during the 2010-2011 season, the most recent season with available statistics.

The Butler football team saw an average of 2,619 people walk through the gates of the Butler Bowl per game during its 2011 season.

Attendance figures for spring sports such as baseball, softball, golf, tennis and track and field are not available on the NCAA website.

Of Butler’s spring sports, only baseball and softball have attendance figures included in their box scores on www.butlersports.com.

The largest home crowd of the ongoing season for the baseball team was 277 for a doubleheader against Wright State on March 24.

In a game against Loyola of Chicago on March 31, the softball team drew a season-high 187 fans.

Senior first baseman Erin Falkenberry said she thinks softball does not get as much exposure as other sports and cited the location of the softball field as a reason why.

“I don’t think there’s that much publicity or promotion for softball games, so that could be why,” Falkenberry said. “I don’t think a lot of students know about us, and with our location so far away from campus, I don’t think, unless you’ve been out there, that you’d know there’s a softball field out there.”

Baseball junior infielder Bob Akin said the numerous games that baseball and softball teams play during their seasons could factor into why few people attend games.

Collegian file photo

“We play four or five games a week and play the same team for several games in a row,” Akin said. “With basketball, there’s one big rivalry game to go to, so I think that has something to do with it.”

Gelwicks also said the number of games that are played in a season, as well as Butler’s small enrollment, could have something to do with the lower attendance.

“The fact that we play so many games means there’s a bit of a spread-out crowd,” Gelwicks said. “Plus, Butler’s a smaller school. Most schools that get large crowds are bigger public schools.”

Unpredictable spring weather could also play a role in the low number of fans at sporting events, considering that the majority are contested outdoors.

“It’s usually colder during our season, and people don’t want to sit in the cold for three hours,” Gelwicks said.

While Falkenberry said having more fans at home games would be appreciated, the low attendance does not bother her.

“It doesn’t bother us,” Falkenberry said. “But we would love to get the support that other teams on campus get.”

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