Coming off of one of its biggest victories in more than a decade – a road win against a nationally-ranked East Carolina squad – the football team returned to Lincoln Financial Field this past weekend for an American Athletic Conference match-up against Memphis.
They did so in front of – officially – 23,882 spectators. The weather was chilly, but unlike the prior home game, there was no rain.
While thousands of students did attend, during the program’s second season in The American, the team ranks second-to-last in home attendance. And during a 2014 season in which the team has shown great strides and has a very good possibility of making a bowl contest, students still don’t seem willing to take the trip down to South Philadelphia for games.
The football team is not alone in its lack of support.
The men’s and women’s soccer teams rank last in the conference in attendance. The programs are expected to see an attendance bump once the administration’s plans to move the programs closer to Main Campus come to fruition in the coming years. Rumors continue that the football team, too, will eventually move to a complex closer to Main Campus.
But even the volleyball team, which plays at McGonigle Hall, has an average attendance of 257, which ranks second-to-last in The American.
During a time in which the university and President Theobald appear to be placing an increased emphasis on enhancing and growing the athletic department, it’s disheartening to see that more students are not willing to support their fellow classmates who compete for Temple teams.
Last fall, Deputy Athletic Director Pat Kraft told The Temple News he wants to eventually see a sold out stadium and a level of student body enthusiasm akin to that of Penn State.
But until more students feel a sense of obligation to attend sporting events – in football or another program here – such expectations will remain unrealistic.
With the basketball season starting this week, students should rally around the men’s and women’s squads as they prepare for their second year in The American – because the existence of so many empty seats throughout Temple Athletics is unfair to the student-athletes who work tirelessly to represent our school year-round.