If you’ve ever been to Spartan Stadium, stood in the stands, burned the roof of your mouth on piping hot nachos and lost your voice screaming at the players, then you’ve experienced college football.
The people around you eating the same nachos and also losing their voices, those people are just as much part of the football experience as the players on the field. It goes for every college sport too.
The crowd at a game is a unit, they’re all there for the same reason and everyone is a part of everyone else’s experience.
Now imagine being at that same football game, but instead of a packed stadium there’s only about 10,000 people in a stadium that holds 80,000. That electricity is gone, you’re not packed in next to strangers. The gameday experience is lost.
That’s what’s wrong with games at NMU. The lack of attendance at games kills the potential electricity in the air at a college sporting event.
At NMU, we are lucky enough to have a Division I hockey team and a national championship winning hockey team at that. While they might not be playing high profile teams like Michigan State or the University of Michigan anymore, the games are just as important.
It’s one thing to go to Northern Michigan University, but being a Wildcat has a completely different meaning. Students at Northern Michigan University study in Jamrich and eat at the Marketplace. Wildcats hang Huskies during hockey games and scream their green and gold painted faces off in the last minutes of football games.
At one point not too long ago, the student section was like that. Students filled the Superior Dome on Saturday afternoons in the fall and shook the Berry Events Center with screams on Friday and Saturday nights in the winter.
So what went wrong?
If you ask me, it just became “uncool” around campus to have school spirit. People wear the Wildcat on their sweatshirts, but that’s the extent of their school spirit.
Everyone became too aware of what other people thought of their school spirit, so they hid.
Then teams started to lose more games and everyone’s attitudes got even more pessimistic.
So what needs to change for NMU to have a rockin’ student section again? Attitudes.
It’s easy to join the chatter when people start talking about the football team’s history of losing seasons, but imagine the positive impact we could have if we turned that conversation around. Instead of continuing the bashing, bring up positive attributes the team has: the addition of a former NFL football coach to our coaching staff or the ability for our team to go toe-to-toe against a Texas team.
If more people talked about NMU sports in a positive light, the more positive feelings people would associate with NMU sports.
Now imagine the Dome, imagine it filled to capacity with 16,000 strangers and friends around you. You have a KBC brat in one hand and a pair of green and gold pompoms in the other. With just 10 seconds to go in the game the Wildcats are down by two. A Hail Mary pass from Shaye Brown travels over 50 yards to meet Paris Woods in the end zone. In the last second of the game, the Wildcats take the lead.
The crowd loses it. Screams echo in your ear, the person next to you jumped out of his seat and knocked the brat out of your hand. Your pompoms are
flying and your own screams join the chorus.
Besides some obvious sadness over your lost brat, the feeling of a last minute win celebrated with other fans—there’s nothing quite like it.
Sports can make the college experience so much better, but it is what we make it. The
Wildcats can have that experience, if we bring the right attitude and just get to the games.