Basketball teams need support from students


The Wildcats controlled the rebound and brought the ball down the court. Trailing by a score of 36-38 to the last-place Tiffin Dragons, the players knew they had to do something. They fed the ball to the point and then down low to Kyle Greene. He drove to the hoop, rose up over the Tiffin defender and threw the ball down in a monstrous two-handed dunk. The Berry Events Center erupted – or at least it would have, had there been more than 250 people attending the game.

Spotty attendance has plagued many of NMU’s athletic teams over the years, but rarely is it as depressing as it is at home basketball games. This year, despite both the men’s and women’s teams both getting off to respectable 9-6 starts, the Berry is a nearly empty cavern of silence at each and every home game. To date, the men’s team is averaging 517 fans per home game, while the women’s team is bringing in only 331 fans on average.

Attendance hasn’t always been so dismal at Northern’s basketball games. As recently as the 2005-2006 season, NMU averaged 864 fans a game. Even last year’s team, which finished the season with a dismal 7-20 record, drew more fans.

This year’s basketball teams have been a shining beacon in an otherwise dreary year where several NMU teams failed to live up to preseason hype. Both basketball teams have bucked this trend of underachieving, and, despite both teams being picked last in the preseason conference standings, they look poised to finish the season with winning records and hopefully a spot in the GLIAC tournament.

The biggest problem with the crowd at games isn’t a lack of community support, but a lack of support and attendance from students.

Hockey games at Northern consistently draw well over 1,000 students, with many lining up early on Monday morning for prime seats. Even in a losing season, the team never seems to lack support. They even have their own admirable cheering section – the Puckheads – who will stop at nothing to make sure they can be at the games supporting the ‘Cats.

Why does the hockey team deserve more respect and attendance than the basketball team? The spirit of loyal fans should be to support their school, not just one sport.

Anyone who considers themselves a true fan of Wildcat athletics needs to be attending more than just football and hockey games. Northern has nine other varsity athletic programs – all of which average under 1,000 fans a game. NCAA basketball is widely regarded as one of the biggest sports on many campuses.Wouldn’t it be nice if we as students could push basketball up to that realm?

If even 300 more students attend the remaining six home games – three of which are against teams ranked in the top 10 nationally – Northern will likely finish in the top four in the conference in attendance.

Northern is already regarded as a tough place for visiting teams to play (it isn’t easy playing basketball after taking a 10-hour bus trip into an arctic environment). Adding a few hundred rowdy students to the crowd will only make visiting teams’ trips to Marquette more of a challenge.

Both the men and women’s teams will be looking to maneuver their way into GLIAC playoff position as they faceoff against Lake Superior State and Saginaw Valley State.

So get yourself down to the Berry Events Center this weekend to enjoy some fast-paced Wildcat basketball action.