Photos by Benjamin McHenry.
Go to any football game and the stands are almost always full. But go to a basketball game, and it is a stark contrast.
“There’s definitely more students at football games than basketball games,” said junior basketball player Julian Hazel. “I think it’s because football is just a much bigger sport so people care more.”
A lack of promotion could explain the lack of attendance at basketball games. For football games, it is always made clear when and where games are. There is also heavy promotion for it through events like Homecoming and the sale of old football jerseys during lunch.
“The athletic office does more to support football than basketball because more revenue is made from football,” said senior spirit leader and cheerleader Will McCord. “I also think because there are less football games they put more effort on each individual game, and they try to capitalize more on it.”
Further explanation for this scarcity of attendance could be the scheduling differences. Football games are always on Friday, at roughly the same time, which allows people to build their weekend schedule around going to them. Moreover, having the games on Friday means people can attend without having to stress about finishing assignments that night. With basketball, this is not always the case, as games are on any night of the week. With so many games it can be difficult to keep up with when and where they are.
”There are a lot more games for basketball, and they aren’t always on Fridays, so sometimes kids can’t make it to the game due to homework or another commitment,” McCord said. “I also think it’s a lot easier to talk at a football game due to the atmosphere of a stadium opposed to a gym.”
The possibility that students enjoy the social atmosphere of a stadium rather than a gym begs the question that attendance relies on more than the enjoyment of watching the sport itself.
“At football games, it is a little easier to socialize because of the openness, but you can definitely still do that at a basketball game,” Hazel said.
One of the biggest aspects of football school spirit is the Spirit Award competition between FHS and HSE, which spirit leaders and administrators alike take a lot of pride in winning. WTHR also sponsors Operation Football, which showcases the most popular games of the night on the local news. Those things tend to generate excitement.
“A lot of people really love showing their school spirit, so getting awarded for that spirit is definitely a big incentive, especially for spirit leaders,” McCord said. “It also reflects really well on your school, so that’s another big incentive to be spirited.”
An eccentric student section has been a staple of football games for years, and it has recently started flowing into sports such as soccer and baseball as well. Although basketball attendance is lower, it would make the players feel validated when it does.
“When you’re on the court, you don’t really think about how many people are in the stands,” Hazel said. “But it definitely feels a lot better when the school’s behind you showing support.”