Where are the fans?

With approximately 14,000 students enrolled at Northern Kentucky University one thing that is hard to explain is why the NKU sports teams don’t have more of a student following.

For the past decade the Norse athletic teams have won championship after championship and they still have a tough time finding fans to fill the seats.

Why? I would venture to say that virtually every student at NKU has some kind of job to keep them busy during non-school hours. Or is it, that this being a commuter school, most students don’t really connect with the university unless they are actually sitting in class. Maybe Xavier and UC attract much of the fan base instead of NKU – which doesn’t get as much media exposure.

Or could it be that there isn’t enough promotion of upcoming athletic events? If they don’t check the Web site or see a schedule posted on the wall, do students even know what is going on? Do the students even know where these teams play?

Athletic Director Jane Meier believes that students don’t have a lot of free time and this leads to low student attendance. “We know that students are very busy,” said Meier. “We are trying to do different promotions and things during games to attract more of a student fan base.”

About five years ago, the athletics department put together a survey to see why more students don’t attend games. “The survey came back and said that 70 percent of students don’t attend games because of work or classes,” said Meier.

This is why Meier and other administrators are trying to get students more involved. Norse Force was an attempt to try and attract students to games. They have pre- and post-game get-togethers. They also have contests during games to get the students and fans involved.

Many students don’t have the loyalty towards NKU’s teams as they might for a larger college or high school team. They don’t think of the Norse as “their” teams.

Look at the NKU basketball teams, which are by far the most popular spectator sport events at this university. Last season, average attendance was 1,332 fans per game. Students might make up half of that total. Besides the pep band, the “student section” in Regents Hall usually has plenty of seats available, and this is the biggest fan base of any team at the university.

Students shouldn’t be so disinterested. This level of play is only a level below those student-athletes who are seen daily on ESPN and other national networks.

So, pay attention to the success and the achievements of NKU teams. Show more interest in the games, the names and the stats.

Start thinking of them as “your” team.