Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Terriers Basketball Right Now: Attendance

I thought with a long lag in between games, I would address an issue that is pressing to Terriers Basketball right now.  One of the biggest issues now and in recent years has been attendance, especially students and recent alumni.  Why do the Terriers continue to rank almost last in attendance in the America East Conference?

The last three seasons the Terriers have had the preseason number one team in the America East conference, yet continue to draw very little support.  This is a dissapointment that baffles me.  I went to a lot of games as an undergraduate and so far all of them this year as an alumni.  Attending a game, even a game with two mid-major teams involved, is an awesome experience  The only thing lacking for me, as a fan of the sport and BU, is that in your face home court atmosphere that you find at other schools.  Some people think that this only happens at major program schools like Kentucky and Duke. No that is completley false, even mid-major teams, teams in our conference, draw packed gyms for conference games.  Why not BU?

Here are a couple arguments for poor attendance and why I think they are wrong:
  • BU is not big enough for two winter sports.  BU Hockey is a major program in the country.  BU students come out in very large numbers to see a team that is ranked on a national level.  I know students have school spirit because they sell out hockey games. How come BU fans cannot spread their school pride to the basketball team? Programs like Vermont provide a corollary to this two sports argument. Vermont also has a nationally recognized ice hockey program and a smaller student body, yet they continue to pack gymnasiums in basketball while playing in the same exact conferences as BU in both sports.
  • BU is in a small time conference, the quality of basketball is worse than on TV.  This is perhaps the argument that I think is the most absurd. Mid-major Division I College Basketball games are just as exciting games in major conference games.  Mid-major conference games have all the same glitz, glamor and flair as major conference games have.  Mid-major team have the same rivalries, dunks, alley-oops, great shooters and exciting  buzzer-beater finishes the major conferences have.

Here is the most valid argument for poor attendance:

  • BU never wins a conference tournament, they never go to the NCAA Tournament.  It's true, the Terriers have not been to the big dance since 2002.  The current generation of students and young alumni have never seen a conference champion. There have been many times they have come really close, but have not finished it out.  I can see why this would be discouraging, one of my first BU basketball experiences was also my most disappointing.  The Terriers entered the 2003-04 postseason tournament as regular season conference champions and the favorite to receive the America East automatic bid to advance to the NCAA tournament.  After a first-round bye, they lost to the lowest seeded team in the tournament, Stony Brook, in overtime.  This one single game probably should've turned me off to BU basketball for a while. But I endured a half decade in hopes that they would finally one day triumph.
So how does BU boost attendance? No amount of marketing and promotions is going to get students and alumni alike to show up in large numbers to BU basketball games. I think there is only one solution, and it's simple: win a conference tournament and return to the NCAA tournament.  This will give students and alumni something to be proud about once again.  It will encourage supporters to show up the next year in hopes they can repeat.  The student body has only known teams that have been dissapointments in past years, it's time for them to know a team that wins. 


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