Go to almost any UW Oshkosh athletics game and the stands will consist of parents, family and a few friends of the players. There is a severe lack of UWO students in attendance.
Even with the UWO football team making it to the championship game last school year and the men’s basketball team going just two weeks ago, very few students on campus seem to care.
Thus, provoking the question — what does it take for students to get excited for sports and show school spirit?
Often times, there are complaints that the football stadium is on the opposite side of the Fox River, and it’s too hard for those without cars to get to. However, UWO offers a bus service for students to get to games. And there’s no way it’s hard to get to Kolf for basketball games since it’s almost in the middle of campus.
UWO senior Katherine Vopal said transportation isn’t what stops her from going to the games. Rather, she doesn’t go because she’s busy and doesn’t know any of the players.
“I mean I enjoy sports, but I never think to go because I’m doing other stuff,” Vopal said. “Plus, I don’t really know anybody on the sports teams.”
It’s understandable that there are times when students can’t make it to a game because they’re busy, but no one really is so busy that they can’t make it to any of the multiple games within a season.
Another common excuse is that students don’t have anyone to go with to the sporting events. If a roommate or friend isn’t willing to go, then you aren’t going to either.
Similarly, UWO junior Elizabeth Chizek said since she’s new to Oshkosh, and doesn’t really know many people here yet, she hasn’t gone to any games.
“I don’t really know anyone here so I haven’t gone to a game,” Chizek said. “I haven’t gone to any college games throughout my college career, though. If I had a group I would go for the social aspect of it. Otherwise sports aren’t really my thing.”
UWO junior Amanda Beistle said while she’s not that interested in sports, if she had friends to go to the games with who better understood sports she’d be more likely to attend.
“I guess I’m just not too interested in sports, and I don’t know much about any sports to actually understand the game,” Beistle said. “I would just need to understand the game more personally to have a stronger interest in going and have a group of friends that are willing to go with me that can explain the game to me.”
Since the social aspect of games is such an important part, if more people went then it would allow students to have more fun attending games. Thus, the athletics department could advertise games as a great way to go out with friends for a few hours or as a way to meet other students.
The athletics department has done a good job of doing promotions and giveaways during games, but even that hasn’t seemed to work.
Some of the attendance problems may start with a trickle-down effect; juniors and seniors tell incoming freshmen that no one really goes to games. Then, as they advance through school, they tell new students the same thing. But it’s time to break this cycle or just do away with athletics if no one cares.
UWO senior Sean Becher said he thinks part of the problem is that many UWO students just don’t care about Division III sports and that there is a minimal amount of school spirit at UWO.
“I think a lot of students don’t go to Titan games because we have been raised to care about the sports and teams we see on TV,” Becher said. “D-III athletics just aren’t seen as important unless you’re an athlete or you actually care about more than D-I or professional sports. Also, when it comes to Oshkosh, I think there’s an overall lack of school spirit; students don’t think they’ll get anything out of attending a game.”
Becher said something that could increase student interest would be finding a way to get them more excited about games, especially since many of UWO’s teams are doing well this year.
“I think if we want to boost game attendance, we need people to know these are games worth watching,” Becher said. “Most of our teams in a variety of sports are doing very well. We need to do a better job advertising that and getting people excited. Also, there needs to be clearer and more obvious advertising for when and where the games are and how one can attend. Athletics needs to get the word out.”
Even though there is a severe lack of school spirit at Oshkosh, which can be seen every Homecoming season, there are still some avid sports fans who attend the games. Becher said he loves going to the games because of how entertaining they are and to simply show support for the teams.
“I’m very invested in Titan athletics, particularly football and men’s and women’s basketball,” Becher said. “I love to be a part of the games and show my support. Any sports fan knows how fun that is.”
In the end, there are many reasons a person can give about why they don’t attend games, but if at the heart of it all they don’t care then there’s nothing that will get them to attend a game.