Amanda Freuler // Contributing Writer
MTSU’s starting quarterback Brent Stockstill receives the snap, grips the familiar, slick leather, his arms mechanically taking over to make the pass. The football slices through the air until it is caught by tight end, Terry Pettis. Pettis rushes the ball towards the end zone and the first touchdown in MTSU’s biggest win of the 2015 season is complete. Fireworks burst above the stadium and a siren wails in celebration.
This is the moment where an overwhelming roar of cheering should have shook the stadium, but that’s a lot to expect when the total number of people who attended the game did not even match MTSU’s student population. Only 16,030 fans witnessed MTSU demolish Charlotte University at Fl0yd Stadium on September 19, with a final score of 73-14.
Over 16,000 fans may sound significant, until it is taken into consideration that MTSU’s enrollment this year is 22,511 students. The biggest thing to take away is that the student population may not even make up half of a games’ attendance. Aside from MTSU students, the MSTU-Charlotte crowd included family members, student guests and possibly Charlotte fans.
According to Conference USA, MTSU ranks 10th in home game attendance for the 2015 season out of the 13 schools in the district. Our average attendance for the season is currently 19,116, which is still 3,395 less people than our student body.
MTSU does not even rank on Conference USA’s lists for Top Attended Games Hosted by C-USA Teams, or Top Attended Conference Games. Data collected by the National Collegiate Athletic Association shows that in 2014, MTSU ranked 107 in total and average home game attendance out of 126 schools in the nation with Division I football teams.
As if those rankings aren’t pathetic enough, it gets worse. Many MTSU students pledge their loyalty to the University of Tennessee.
On the same list that MTSU ranked 107 for 2014 home game attendance, the University of Tennessee ranked 8, with an average of 99,754 fans per game. Meanwhile, MTSU’s average last year was 17,408.
What’s sickening is that only 4,681 more students attended UTK in 2014 than MTSU, yet 82,346 more fans attended UTK games. Granted, the UTK fan population includes a lot more guests than MTSU, but I bet some of those guests included MTSU students.
At this point you might be wondering why a student from MTSU would sacrifice going to watch their own school play football to watch another collegiate team.
Could it be that UTK has a better record? No. In 2014 both teams were 6-6 for regular season games.
Could it have to do with UTK having better ticket prices? Well, being that MTSU student tickets are free, and an average guest ticket at UTK costs $70, probably not.
If the problem doesn’t have to do with records or ticket costs, then it all comes down to students and their school spirit, or really lack thereof. Whether or not other schools have more fans because their fan base is broader or their student population is a little bigger, MTSU students should not add to their crowds.
Realistically, not every MTSU student can attend every single home game, but students can definitely make more of an effort to show pride in their school and MTSU athletics. For starters, leave the orange at home.
There might be hope, however, for MTSU and its “true blue” football crowds. Two weeks ago at MTSU’s Homecoming game against Vanderbilt, there was an attendance of 25,411 fans, which ranked 8 for highest attendance in MTSU game history.
With the amount of work players, cheerleaders, band and dance team members, administrators and everyone behind the scenes put into football games, they deserve the attendance at every game to be like that of homecoming’s.
If you’re proud of your school and fellow classmates, then prove your color is blue and support your Raider football team for the rest of the season.