OPINION | Low fall sports attendance reflects student priorities

A mostly-empty stadium faced the Butler University women’s soccer team this Sunday as the team took the field.

Absent were the screaming hordes of Bulldog fans who normally pack basketball games.

Butler casts itself as a supportive community, but sometimes that does not appear to be the case.

Fans at Butler never attend fall sports in the same numbers as they do spring, but the difference between men’s basketball and all other sports is even starker.

Plenty of factors could contribute to this.

People might need time to settle into college life in the fall.

The men’s basketball team may be more competitive.

Particularly rude people might assume that it comes down to talent.

And this past Sunday, weather definitely played a factor.

But none of these reasons quite suffice.

If people needed to “settle,” attendance would probably increase as the semester wears on.

It does not consistently do so.

Competition does not consistently explain the difference either.

Other teams have incredibly close games and strong rivalries.

Take the women’s soccer team, which has consistently had more than 10 shots on goal a game this fall.

More importantly, however, the men’s basketball team had an admittedly tough season last year.

Fans did not suddenly abandon Hinkle Fieldhouse when the odds were stacked against them.

The attendance issue may, in fact, be more of a psychological situation.

Vice President of Student Affairs Levester Johnson offered an explanation and a solution for the disparity.

“These are their classmates, people sitting next to them in class,” Johnson said.

“We’re working with different departments to get students out to these games,” he said.

Johnson’s idea makes sense.

The men’s basketball team has come to define Butler in the minds of thousands of Americans who would not otherwise know about the university.

Part of the solution then should be making all athletics a bigger part of the community.

Butler prides itself on being different, on having a kind of neighborhood feel to it that other schools cannot offer.

This difference should be spread to athletics.

The university should not restrict itself to being a one-team school the way others do.

Iconic,  ever-enthusiastic student fans seem like the perfect group to spearhead this change.

Though the Dawg Pound has made efforts to get more fans to other sporting events, like women’s basketball, in the past, they did not make a visible appearance Sunday.

No members of Dawg Pound could be reached for comment.

If Butler wants to address the low attendance—and more importantly, have a closer community—the change needs to be one adopted by the whole student body.

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