You’ll hear that chant at every home game of the women’s basketball team. But even this year, as the Owls wrap up their best season in school history, that refrain isn’t the sound of 10,000 fans cheering. Sometimes, it’s not even 1,000.
No, usually it’s the voices of the few Temple faithful echoing through the Liacouras Center rafters.
It was almost sickening to sit at the Feb. 20 home finale and look into rows upon rows of empty seats. It must be disheartening for the players, to go on a record 21-game winning streak and still not draw a capacity crowd. In case you were wondering, the Liacouras Center seats 10,206.
“The highest attendance that we’ve had at a [non-doubleheader women’s basketball] game this season has been on Dawn Staley School Day versus St. Bonaventure, when there was 4,311,” said Aimee Cicero, Assistant Media Relations Director.
That’s not even the half of it. Most of those in attendance that day were school-age students on a field trip.
The Owls are ranked No. 16 in the Associated Press and ESPN polls. But they rank 59th nationally in attendance, averaging just over 2,000 fans per game. Surprisingly, they led the A-10 in home attendance.
Maybe low attendance has something to do with some students thinking women’s basketball isn’t worth watching.
Or maybe winning in dominant fashion doesn’t do it for Temple basketball fans. The women’s basketball team hasn’t offered down to the wire, nail-biting excitement since a Nov. 23 loss to No. 2 LSU. During their win streak, the Owls won by an average of 16.3 points. I guess fans don’t want to see the home team smack around its opponents every game.
Could it be the Owls don’t have a notable favorite player to attract a larger fan following? Well, junior center Candice Dupree is ranked in the top 40 in the nation in rebounds, blocks, and field goal percentage. She also scored her 1,000th career point earlier this season.
Fans certainly can’t use the ‘We don’t have a big-name coach’ excuse. Dawn Staley was named the 2004 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year. She is a WNBA all-star for the Charlotte Sting and a three-time Olympic gold medalist. During her college career, she was a two-time Kodak All-American.
Students might know all this if they went to games. The Owls are on fire. They are amazing players led by an amazing coach with an amazingly small following.
Don’t feel guilty. It’s not too late to hop on the bandwagon just before the Owls head into March in search of the NCAA Championship.
Until then, the players will be wearing T-shirts that say it all: ‘The T stands alone.’
Danielle K. Milner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.