Letter to the editor: ISU student athletic attendance bucks national trend


Jonathan Krueger/Iowa State Dail

Cyclone Alley cheers on the Cyclones during the Michigan game at Hilton Coliseum on Nov. 17. The Cyclones upset the No. 7-ranked Wolverines 77-70.

In response to Michael Harris’ March 6 letter, entitled “Hilton’s atmosphere suffers due to lack of fans,” Michael makes a few useful points but misses the much larger, overall picture.

During my eight years at Iowa State University, there has been a revitalization of the basketball and football programs. The manner in which the ISU athletic department has changed in less than a decade can be stated as nothing less than astounding. As a lifelong Cyclone fan, it’s fantastic to see Iowa State consistently back on the national stage again and again. With Iowa State third in the Big 12 All-Sport rankings, the consistent excellence of our athletics programs across the board is something to be very proud of.

That being said, this year, more than ever before, there has been talk of student attendance — especially at men’s basketball games. As the men’s basketball team improved and attendance at Hilton soared, more and more people claimed that student attendance was insufficient — or worse yet — not on par with the success of our basketball team. While it is the athletic department, Alumni Association and Cyclone Alley Central Committee’s focus to fill every seat every game, it is important to note that student attendance — and total attendance — at ISU men’s basketball, women’s basketball and football games is higher than ever before in ISU history, all the while during a time where attendance at collegiate sporting events is plummeting.

I’ll leave it to the reader to Google “collegiate sports attendance trends” rather than link the dozen or so articles that I have personally read this year. Suffice it to say that football and basketball programs at elite and powerhouse colleges and universities have seen their home game attendance drop off to historically low levels. Maybe it’s social media, maybe enhanced TV coverage, maybe just this current generation of college sports enthusiasts, but falling collegiate sporting attendance is a concern to colleges — and professional teams — nationwide. At the same time, ticket sales and attendance for ISU events is at multi-year highs, or record highs, this year. It is true during basketball games you might see empty seats, and it is true that you might feel those empty seats are disproportionate to the quality of ISU sports teams, but it’s important to realize that at nearly every other comparable university environment — including our own in previous years — there are and were a whole lot more empty seats.

Never mind the fact that students all sit in the same section in Hilton and crowd towards the floor, leaving large gaps near the top of the section as opposed to the other seats in Hilton. Never mind that all men’s games have been televised and are readily available even in residence hall rooms. Never mind that student attendance at men’s basketball games is at an all-time high. Never mind these things and you might find yourself complaining about a “lack of fans” at Hilton this year.

If you are an ISU student, have an all-sports pass and you haven’t been to every men’s and women’s basketball game this year you might be living in a glass house. Make up for it March 8 when we face Oklahoma State. If you want to know more about what Cyclone Alley Central does, check out isusalc.org/apply — applications for the 2014-15 committee close on March 26!