ISU fans need to invest in their teams

Curtis Powers

For the past 23 years of my life, I have spent most of my time living in or near Peoria, Ill. I lived there for seven years, including the final two years of high school.

As an athlete in high school, I found out about these things called message boards on the Internet. The relevant ones for our area were found at our newspaper’s Web site:

Even after graduating, I still frequented those message boards. Initially, it was to keep up with my old high school, since my brother was still there.

Recently, I came across a thread about Illinois State potentially going to the Mid-American Conference. In it, many posters wondered what the difference was between Illinois State and Iowa State.

To be honest, I was a little shocked and offended at that suggestion. But then I thought about it a little more. Other than being in the Big 12 and having more money, what separates us as an athletics program?

To me, it’s the fans. Since I arrived in the fall of 2005, I have been really impressed with ISU fans. You have to be really committed to cheer for Iowa State β€” at least in major men’s sports.

When I was doing research on potential factors with conference realignment, I came across an NCAA database on attendance figures for various sports.

It was interesting to watch our numbers as we actually started to win some.

The numbers, in some sense, speak for themselves. In 1998, our average football attendance was 64 percent of capacity at 35,181 β€” good for 58th best in Division I. The attendance slowly grew over the years to its peak in 2007 of 90 percent of capacity at 49,462 β€” good for 46th best in Division I.

Last year, it was 46,242; though the NCAA stopped ranking teams outside the top 30.

Iowa State does even better in other sports. We were ranked 3rd in women’s basketball, 9th in women’s volleyball and 26th in men’s basketball this past year. The NCAA doesn’t keep track of wrestling attendance, but if I had to guess, I’m pretty sure we’d be in the top 10.

However, as good as those numbers are, Iowa State needs more from the fans.

We were on the brink of being left out in the cold a little over a week ago. Had the Big 12 not stayed together, we’d be looking at Conference USA. That’s not bad just from an athletics standpoint, but we are also talking about jobs and the local economy.

Ray Perryman, economist, told the Waco Tribune he projected the school would lose 1,677 jobs if Baylor was separated from the other Texas schools in conference realignment. He said it could cost Waco as much as $196.7 million in revenue annually.

One can only imagine how it would affect Ames if something similar happened to Iowa State.

This is where fans can have a noticeable impact, football fans specifically.

As you may have seen in the conference realignment talks, football is what drives college athletics. Therefore, we need to get better if we hope to survive a future conference realignment like what almost took place last week.

We can help with that in a couple ways.

First, make a donation to Cyclone athletics. Thankfully, we have a great athletic director in Jamie Pollard, who has had the vision to improve the program. And how nice would it be to break ground this following season for bowling in the south end zone of Jack Trice? It could happen with your support.

Second, buy tickets and go to games, especially in November.

A poster on made a graph showing the average attendance of games by week from 2005-2009. It revealed that attendance falls by 5,000 people once games happen in November.

There are other ways to help to be sure, but these two are key. They not only help the program now, but in the future as well.

If we fail to act, who knows? We could be just like Illinois State in the future.