Bison athletics is back, people. Overpriced textbooks, wifi issues and straight-up class is all worth it with college sports back in our lives. Life even gets better with a week head-start and all the eyes of college football fans across the nation focused on their appetizer to a delectable season ahead.
The Fargodome will be packed and rocking as usual with the student section filled to the top Saturday for the game against Charleston Southern. Attendance at football games hasn’t been an issue ever since the FCS dynasty began after that fateful red-stained day in the playoffs at Eastern Washington in 2010. It’s arguably the greatest and toughest atmosphere in all of collegiate football.
But to be entirely honest, sports not named football don’t get a whole lot of student support at North Dakota State, which is frankly disappointing to me. Yes, I understand this is a trend all across the nation, and football is basically in its own category of attendance. Just look at the numbers.
In 2015, the average attendance for Division I FBS schools was 43,933. Stadiums like Michigan’s Big House help balloon that number with sell-outs numbering 109,901 in attendance. FCS schools draw in an average of 8,341 with NDSU near the top averaging just north of 18,000.
Take a look at soccer. The NCAA came out with an article in June stating Division I women’s soccer teams averaged 1,592, setting an “all-time record.” Volleyball numbers are a little better.
Are we comparing apples to oranges here? Absolutely, but at NDSU these numbers for soccer and volleyball are pretty anemic even compared to the national averages. Volleyball hovered around 700 last year, while soccer clocked in around 300.
Does winning help with attendance? That’s been proven over and over as already mentioned in this column, but does attendance help with winning? Georgia Southern anyone?
Former Eagles head coach Jeff Monken said after his two visits to the Fargodome in the 2011 and 2012 playoffs, “There is no verbal communication whatsoever when you are down on that field. It’s unbelievable. It’s the best atmosphere in college football – at any level.”
Smaller venues like the Bentson Bunker Fieldhouse can create the high-intensity atmosphere with only 1,200 needed to fill it to capacity. And with all of the work these Division I athletes put in during the off-season and in-season all while taking classes, they deserve to have the students’ support and a frenzied environment.
Attendance at all these events are included in the student fees we already pay, so it doesn’t cost a dime out of your pocket to get in, and the athletics department has even formulated an app to incentivize students to get out and go to games.
The app is available on the Apple iTunes or Google Play online stores by searching “Bison Rewards.” The points system is even set up to encourage attendance at non-football events.
Grab some friends, get out and support all of NDSU athletics this fall and win some Bison gear along the way. Those of age, why not pregame a little and get ready and rowdy.
See you at the football game if you got a ticket, and ticket or not for football, all you need is yourself and your student ID for everything else to create the Bison home-field advantage we all know and love.