It’s no secret that attendance INSIDE THE HALL this season has not been very good, at least in terms of what we’ve come to expect. We’ve come to expect sellouts or near sellouts, so when that doesn’t happen, it becomes a topic of conversation.
In some of the earlier live chats this season, we were curious: “Are there even any fans in the balcony?” “How many students are there?” The results were bleak. As Chris Korman wrote back in November, student ticket sales were down about 4,000 this year. This math seems to match up with attendance. In games when classes are in session, IU is averaging somewhere in the 13,000 range for number of attendees. Capacity at Assembly Hall is 17,456. (17,456 – 4,000 = somewhere in the 13,000s.)*
*Quickly: I believe last year, because of the demand for tickets, not all students that bought packages got tickets for every single game. So the numbers could be off here, but for the purposes of this post, we’ll just go with it.
It seems one member of the Rumors and Rants crew has taken the latter part of their name, and ranted like mad about students not showing up to these games. (I counted six f-bombs in this thing, as well as six exclamation points. This rant is not for the faint of heart; tread lightly.)
Anyways, for fun, I’m going to blockquote the rant, and then I’m going to give my own commentary under the blockquote. This is a technique no blogger has ever used. Ever.
Here we go:
Well, today on his local radio show (I only ever hear the teasers because I have a day job) Dan Dakich discussed how fans of IU basketball, especially students, are staying away in droves from Assembly Hall this season.
My reaction: You’re full of s–t, Dan Dakich! I don’t believe it. There’s simply no way. You’re just a loser who couldn’t win games with Eric Gordon and DJ White and a supporting cast higher than Snoop Dogg!
And yet, after a little non-scientific investigation, turns out he’s right. IU fans are avoiding 1001 East 17th Street in Bloomington, Indiana like it’s infected with the Ebola virus.
What’s curious about these three grafs, is that the author is telling us here that he was 100 percent clueless about the light attendance at Assembly Hall this year and hadn’t heard about it till today, on talk radio of all places. And yet, he refers to himself as a “diehard fan” later in the same piece. I’m wondering how he missed the boat on this one, as this was what I’d like to refer to as “common knowledge to anyone following the team with even a passing interest this year, or something someone could just as easily surmise.”
Perhaps when you have such an unflinching allegiance to the Cream and Crimson as the author does, these things can only seep into your consciousness through the dulcet tones of Dan Dakich on Indianapolis radio.
Here’s my point: Have Indiana fans been closet fair-weather fans the entire time? Did no one know it until now?
No, and no. In some recent years when the team was expected to do well, students packages didn’t give tickets to all home games, because of demand. In some recent years, when fan interest wasn’t as high, students ticket packages gave you all the games, because of demand. The author went to school at IU; I am utterly shocked he never noticed this phenomena before. This is supply and demand at work, and it’s incredibly low on the demand end this year because this season is an outlier.
Everyone knew IU basketball would be beyond horrible in Tom Crean’s first season. Kelvin Sampson left this team in tatters when he was fired, and there was nothing Dan Dakich could do, either. We all knew this. But if the fans can’t be bothered to support this team, a clean program the fans can believe in again, then Kelvin Sampson has truly won.
Does it take one dirty coach to turn the IU fanbase into a quivering mass of front-runners?
No, it doesn’t. Look: Student ticket packages were $210 this season, according to Korman. (A student I just spoke with on the phone said his bank statement tabbed him for $220.) Most of us were college students at one point. Were we oozing with money? No, we weren’t. (I wasn’t.) That’s a lot of money to a college kid that doesn’t have parents handing them over money every month, a college student that maybe only worked in the summer to have cash for the entire school year.
So what are we really arguing here, in terms of fair-weather fans? I would argue the types of students that didn’t get tickets this year are the types of fans that only have a bit of a passing interest in the team to begin with, the types of people that will go if their friends are going and they all got a package. And, even in good years, and even when these students have tickets, attendance can be sketchy. For afternoon games on the weekends, sometimes the stadium doesn’t fill up entirely until halfway through the first half. And sometimes a good chunk of these students decide to wake up and watch the game from their bed while nursing a hangover.
A couple thousand students, students that range from clueless freshman who get basketball tickets because it’s the cool thing to do, or sorority girls in DG who couldn’t pick Tijan Jobe out of a lineup, thought to themselves: “You know what, we’re not going to get tickets this year because we’ve heard the team sucks, and heck, I don’t want to pay that much for tickets. THE ECONOMY IS KILLING MY PORTFOLIO RIGHT NOW.”
The reason the expensive seats continue to be filled is because it takes years to get those tickets. Adults that have worked their whole life for them aren’t going to give them up because of one bad year. There is brand loyalty there. Not so much for the freshman in McNutt.
In sum: It appears the author is yelling and cursing at that group of girls that sits behind you in Psych class and wear Ugg boots.
Not only does being a fairweather fan cheapen the entire experience, it makes the die-hards like the five of us here at Rumors and Rants hate you even more. Besides, the f–k else do the students have to do at 7pm on a f–king Tuesday night in the middle of winter? Drink and “have relations” after the game, you sissies.
I can think of many things students could be doing on a Tuesday night besides walking up to Assembly Hall in the cold and watching a team of freshman, walk-ons and juco transfers lose, and lose badly. Like, maybe, still watching the game, but doing so from the comfort of their dorm room or fraternity or off-campus housing. But if you do that, the five members of Rumor and Rants will hate you even more. Seems these fringe fans that didn’t buy tickets this year can’t catch a break in this author’s scenario.
Next year, when Crean’s first crop of real recruits shows up and the Hoosiers are good again, I guarantee Assembly Hall will be packed once more and everyone will be vocally supporting the team again.
I 100 percent agree with this statement.
So here’s a message from the alumni and the die hards who aren’t bailing on this team: If you aren’t going to cheer for the Hoosiers live and in person, especially the students, then don’t come back next year or the year after when the team is good again. Stay the f–k away because we don’t want you.
If these fans do, as the author writers here, “stay the f–k away,” the same amount of students will buy tickets next year, and then we’ll be in same boat again, and then we may have to read another rant by this author in which he’s even more pissed at these students for not showing up because the team is significantly better. Though, I suppose, if students don’t heed the author’s warning and do come back next season, he may also decide to write a piece about how everyone is “back on the bandwagon” again and he and the four other members of Rumors and Rants are true, almighty fans and stuck with the team last year, and now that you are back, he hates you even more.
The logic makes one’s head spin.
Here’s my overriding point: fair-weather fans exist in the Indiana fanbase, especially in the student body when it comes to ticket sales. This is not some new revelation this season under Crean. It was like this from 2003-07 when I was a student.
And it’s hit all areas of Indiana fandom this year: there’s been less discussion on ITH this year, because less people are watching the games and less people are enthused about the team.
This will soon change. Until then, the “diehards” are just spitting into the wind.