It’s easy to write disparaging commentary about the winless Eastern Michigan football team.
I could type miles of text about its poor defense, in particular its mind-numbing average yards rushing allowed per game (292.8), or the completely mystifying fact of the team not having a winning season in more than a decade.
In my time at EMU, I’ve witnessed plenty of losses: the losing of games and the loss of players to injury. But perhaps more depressing than any of the aforementioned, is the loss of fan support and the exceedingly low number of fans who don’t attend games.
The last home game is 1 p.m. Saturday, it’d be nice to see more than the 3,364 who attended the homecoming game on Oct. 3.
With an average attendance of 5,450, a mark that represents 18 percent of the accumulated capacity of Rynearson Stadium (21,799), EMU ranks dead last in attendance out of 120 in the FBS.
Fellow Mid-American conference institution Ball State nearly doubles EMU’s average, coming in at 11,918, which stands at 53 percent of its stadium’s capacity.
So, have you gone to any athletics events recently?
“I went to that madness thing, but that’s all I’ve been to,” 19-year-old business administration major Jacynte Green said referring to the Thriller of Madness basketball event Oct. 16 at the Convocation Center.
“There’s never really many people there, either,” Green said.
So is it a matter of winning?
“I’d go if I knew there’d be more people going,” said Chris Peuterbaugh, a 22-year-old product design and development major. “I think it’s probably the biggest problem.”
But Peuterbaugh made an interesting observation regarding his friends attending games.
“A lot of them commute from like a half hour or 45 minutes away,” he said. “So they don’t think it’s worth coming out.”
Many fans would like to place the blame upon certain sports, saying too many of them lose too frequently. That’s a cop-out because EMU has plenty of MAC titles, with its swimming, cross country and track and field teams perennially placing itself near the top of the conference.
The basketball teams start this weekend on the road, but I bet not many are going to attend the first home games. The women open their home season on Nov. 16 and the men on Nov. 28.
The lack of support extends far into the university. School spirit is a term that’s cliché, but it rings true.
It’s sad to go to events and see athletes put in their effort, only to look in the stands and see a smattering of spectators.
So this is not necessarily a call to arms, nor a lashing, but more of a reflection.
It’s fun to support teams, win or lose, and the athletes would appreciate it more than you could imagine. Give them someone to play for.