By Gio Gennero | Sports Writer
Texas is 100% a football state, as Texans support football more than any other sport on a professional, high school and college level. Here at Baylor, our football team seems to be everything. It’s a great feeling going to McLane Stadium to watch our Bears play. Most students go to every home football game to cheer on the Bears, which shouldn’t change, but the same mentality should be applied to other sports that wear the green and gold.
Since we are early in the 2021 season, and 2020 was an asterisk year because of COVID-19, let’s talk about 2019. In the 2019 season, the average attendance of Baylor football games was 45,517, according to Baylor Athletics, which is astonishing because McLane was built to seat 45,000. Men’s basketball average attendance was 7,787, women’s basketball averaged 7,929 people and the volleyball team’s average audience was 2,050. While these are good numbers, the Ferrell Center, in which they play, holds 10,284 people for basketball and 6,000 for volleyball. McLane was technically over 100% capacity, and the Ferrell Center was less than 80% for basketball and around 34% for volleyball.
One could make the argument that the reason for this discrepancy is that in the 2019 season, Baylor football was playing at a very high level, finishing 11-3 and getting to the Big 12 Championship as well as a bowl appearance. However, the other sports were just as successful, if not more, that same year. Women’s basketball won a national championship, the men’s basketball team was atop of the conference most of the year and volleyball spent the majority of that season ranked No. 1 in the nation. Therefore, the argument that the football team being great is why they got more support is invalid because Baylor was more than excelling in other sports.
So far this year, this remains to be the case. In this season’s home openers, the difference between unranked football’s attendance and No. 10 volleyball’s attendance was eye opening. BU’s home opener against Texas Southern University had an attendance of 42,461. Volleyball is on a six-game wining streak and are consistently holding opponents to under 20 points a set, yet they had an attendance of 770 when they played Rice University. I understand that Baylor against Rice isn’t the most interesting match, especially because Baylor ended up sweeping the set 3-0. However, the same thought process should be applied to football. How exhilarating is Baylor versus Texas Southern? Especially when the Bears cruised their way to a 66-7 win.
Having attended games for both teams this season, I can tell you that the atmospheres are completely different; they’re not even near the same level. The student section at the football games is deep, the closer you get to midfield the more cluttered it is. In between drives the Jumbotron has mini games for the fans to participate in, as well as short videos of football players singing along to random songs. During quarter breaks they honor different people with awards in front of everyone and at halftime the band performs ever so proudly after pouring hours into rehearsals. When the fans are going wild at McLane, it’s so loud that you can’t hear yourself think at times and you can forget about hearing any music playing on the stadium speakers. The crowd constantly syncs up for different chants, such as the iconic “Ahhhhhhhh, Sic Em’ Bears!” The crowd remains ecstatic throughout most of the game even if it is a blowout going either way.
At the Ferrell Center for the volleyball games, it’s a different feeling. In between sets and during timeouts, there are no crowd interaction videos, no synchronized chants, just music that easily overshadows any type of noise coming from the relatively small crowd. After amazing plays by the Bears, a glance into the crowd would find many people still lost in their conversations. There’s no animated cheering, just casual applause with awkwardly loud music. Toward the end most people in attendance seem ready to go home.
I know it is unrealistic of me to ask for support of other sports to be on par with football, especially here in Texas. However, as the year goes on, I hope to see more and more support for every sport. If football is getting over 90% attendance, I hope to see basketball and volleyball, and really any sport where the team represents Baylor, to get at least 80% attendance or above. As students, we get free tickets to every home sporting event. We should try our best to go out and support all of our fellow students when they play their respective sports, especially if these teams are going to be competing for national championships. I shouldn’t have to find out about non-football sporting events through chalk on the sidewalk in front of the building I’m walking into for class .