The Student News Site of Northern Michigan University

The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Megan Voorhees
Megan Voorhees
Assistant News Editor

Hi! I’m Megan Voorhees and I’m the Assistant News Editor at The Northwind! I was first introduced to journalism my sophomore year of high school and I’ve been in love with the profession and writing...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Photo courtesy of NMU Athletics
Women’s spring soccer comes to an end this weekend
Lily Gouin April 19, 2024

Editorial: Empty bleachers, empty pockets

The bleachers are empty. And yet NMU is adding more sports. Who’s going to attend these games? Where is the money to fund the teams coming from?

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Attendance at NMU hockey games has decreased in the past several seasons. There are some legitimate reasons for this. One is the team has not produced a winning season in quite a few years and has not won a playoff series since 2010.

Another reason is the change in conferences that took place in 2013. NMU was competing in the CCHA (Central Collegiate Hockey Conference), which had Big Ten schools such as Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Notre Dame playing us at the Berry Events Center each year. After those teams formed their own conference, NMU switched to the WCHA (Western Collegiate Hockey Conference) prior to last season. We now play less popular teams such as Bemidji, Minnesota State-Mankato and Alabama-Huntsville. While the teams themselves may play well enough, the names on the season schedule just don’t have the same pull as those in the conference we were previously playing in.

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In the 2009-2010 season, NMU’s hockey games attracted an average of almost 3,000 fans per game; since the change in conference, attendance has dropped to an average of less than 2,200 in attendance for both the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 seasons.

There’s one game we could always count on to draw students and the community to the Berry: when NMU plays Michigan Tech, our biggest athletic rival. But scheduling such a game over spring break didn’t help anything. In the past, getting a ticket to an NMU v. MTU hockey game was something that had to be done far in advance; this past weekend, it was easy to find several seats right next to each other in the student section.

Hockey is our only Division 1 sport.It should draw more of a crowd at home, but unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Even the women’s basketball team, who have had a great run the last few years, is suffering from low attendance. So how do start-up varsity teams expect to create a loyal fan base if the existing sports are struggling? Will these new sports really revitalize the campus culture, or will they cannibalize an already-shrinking market?

From a business standpoint, the best way a college can generate revenue outside of increased enrollment, which isn’t happening here, is through sports programs. However, our enrollment is continuing to fall; our winter semester enrollment is down 4 percent from last year at this time. We currently stand at 7,710 students.

While it is commendable of NMU for trying to bolster enrollment and better the school by adding more sports under the university banner, we aren’t so sure the real problem is solved.

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