Story by Maddy Williams | Contributing Writer
From tailgates to halftime shows, college football season is back in swing this fall. Students crowding the stands. Screams roaring. The smell of stadium food. The band filling the air with the fight song. During the pandemic, the bustle and excitement in the stands went missing
The pandemic made gathering student support at games far more challenging due to concerns of contracting the virus and canceled games
Floyd Stadium seats over 30,000 fans, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, MTSU only allowed 7,000 fans to attend each game, according to MTSU News.
Many players and students believe student support at games uplifts the Blue Raiders.
“COVID had a huge negative impact on student presence at games,” said junior Sawyer Roberts, president of MTSU Blue Zoo – MTSU’s student section. “We had limited attendance until this year so we are excited to see what this season holds.”
The Blue Zoo attracts students to games by attending on campus events and its collective social media following of over 5,000 followers.
“Just come out to a game and sit with us beside the band and you’re one of us,” Roberts said.
MTSU’s first home football game of the season takes place Sept. 17 against local rival Tennessee State University.
“I would like to see the same energy we had at the end of our women’s and men’s basketball season last year.” Roberts said. “Keep that momentum.”
Basketball games last spring garnered over 50,000 fans throughout the season. Murphy center seats about a third of the people that Floyd Stadium can, so the fan base has plenty of room to be stronger.
“When fans interact with us, that’s what gets us going… what gives us momentum.” said MTSU junior Tra Fluellen, who plays defense for the Blue Raiders. “When we make good plays, we want to see people excited.”
Fluellen has played for the Blue Raiders for two years, and he recommended bringing Lightning, MTSU’s mascot, around campus during game weeks and promoting the games by bringing cheerleaders or the drum line through campus.
MTSU is a member of Conference USA. The championship is up for grabs, and MTSU has to improve from last season to gain that spot.
“We gotta promote it more,” Fluellen said, “People have to know.”
Fluellen asked students in past seasons if they were going to come to the games. Many answered they didn’t know when the game was.
“We gotta do something more exciting.” Fluellen said. “It needs to be an exciting atmosphere. They need to want to come!”
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