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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Apathetic Athletic Attendance?

2009+Macalester+Women+Soccer+host+Saint+Scholastica+in+the+first+round+of+the+2009+NCAA+Soccer+Playoffs%0A%0APhoto+by+Christopher+Mitchell+%2F+Sport+Shot+Photo%0AFor+more+information%2C+contact+info%40sportshotphoto.com
Christopher Mitchell
2009 Macalester Women Soccer host Saint Scholastica in the first round of the 2009 NCAA Soccer Playoffs Photo by Christopher Mitchell / Sport Shot Photo For more information, contact [email protected]

When 250 fans packed into Macalester Stadium last November to catch the Macalester Women’s Soccer team’s 5-0 ‘snowout blowout’ drubbing of St. Olaf in the MIAC Championships semi-final, it was the largest home crowd of the season. Macalester students seem to have a reputation for putting an equal amount of passion into their activities outside the classroom as their academics. Nearly 20 percent of students do so as student-athletes.

2009 Macalester Women Soccer host Saint Scholastica in the first round of the 2009 NCAA Soccer Playoffs Photo by Christopher Mitchell / Sport Shot Photo For more information, contact info@sportshotphoto.com
2009 Macalester Women Soccer host Saint Scholastica in the first round of the 2009 NCAA Soccer Playoffs
Photo by Christopher Mitchell / Sport Shot Photo
For more information, contact [email protected]

Aside from just participating in extracurricular activities, Macalester students show a proclivity for supporting their friends and fellow students at athletic events, music concerts, theatre and dance performances, art exhibits and poetry slams. Twelve years ago, Macalester’s average per-game home athletic attendances were the following: Men’s Soccer (485), Women’s Soccer (210), Football (1,460), Men’s Basketball (450), Volleyball (151) and Women’s Basketball (118). Since then, all of those figures—excluding the Women’s Basketball average, which rose to 157—have taken a nosedive, falling to: Men’s Soccer (172), Women’s Soccer (118), Football (600), Men’s Basketball (179) and Volleyball (102). Those are declines of 65 percent for Men’s Soccer, 44 percent for Women’s Soccer, 59 percent for Football, 60 percent for Men’s Basketball and 32 percent for Volleyball.

What happened? What motivates students to attend or not attend on-campus athletic events? How does student attendance at sporting events compare to attendance at other extracurricular events? In the coming weeks, The Mac Weekly sports section will unveil this data and offer potential improvements.

This week, we focus our attention on a survey conducted in the fall featuring 100 respondents. While it would be hazardous to say that the respondent pool is completely representative of the entire Macalester population, the survey provides potential insights into why the numbers have shifted.

SportChart

The majority of Macalester students rarely (if ever) attend athletic events. 58 percent of respondents said that they attend between zero and two athletic events per semester, whereas 31 percent of respondents attend at least one athletic event every other week, with five percent attending more than one athletic event per week.

Non-Athlete versus Athlete Attendance Frequency
Non-Athlete versus Athlete Attendance Frequency

Looking more closely at the numbers, we can compare athletes to non-athletes. In our survey, 72 percent of respondents were non-athletes. Looking at the data from non-athlete student responses, nearly half of non-athlete respondents (43 percent) said they never attend Macalester athletic events. 76 percent of non-athletes said they attend fewer than three Macalester athletic events in a semester.

Expectedly, attendance among athletes was much higher. Fifty percent of student-athlete respondents reported attending Macalester athletic events at least once per week. Only eight percent of student-athletes said they attend Macalester athletic events once or twice per semester.

After the survey, we looked at the average attendances of Macalester sports and compared them to similar schools and the NCAA DIII averages.

Football Attendance Over the Past Three Years
Football Attendance Over the Past Three Years
Football Attendance Over the Past Three Years
Football Attendance Over the Past Three Years
Soccer Attendance Over the Past Three Years
Soccer Attendance Over the Past Three Years

Mac’s numbers consistently fall short of the national average for all major attendance sports, but part of this is certainly due to the school’s relatively small student enrollment. In comparison to other midwest liberal arts schools our attendance is by no means embarrassing, but the atmosphere and attendance at sports games has huge room for improvement, as anyone who attended a large and/or athletically-fixated high school can attest.

There are numerous ways to go about improving fan experience and attendance, although the biggest and toughest element to change is the school’s culture. The next part of this series will look at ways to increase attendance, improve event atmosphere and enhance the school’s image of athletics.

Stay tuned for part two of the series. Reactions and responses to the figures presented and the issue as a whole are welcomed and encouraged.

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    Madeleine FergusonSep 5, 2019 at 2:22 pm

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