DII sports underpriced, underrated
Jake Faber Sports Editor
I spent the past weekend watching some of the best basketball that I have seen in quite a while, and the best part was that it cost me around the price of a movie ticket.
Instead of pulling out my wallet to sit through some ridiculous animated gnome film, I sat two rows up at the MIAA Conference Tournament in Downtown Kansas City, where a two-game pass ran $15.
And if you had a few free days to spare, as most college students do, $50 would get you a ticket to every game on the schedule, which meant that you would get to watch a total of 16 men’s and women’s college basketball games inside Municipal Auditorium, in a tournament that just happened to feature two overtime thrillers and one of the most exciting championship contests in 10 years. If you’re thinking that you missed out on a pretty sweet deal, you’d be right.
But aside from getting to enjoy some quality sports entertainment, I do have one complaint. No one was there.
And the second I realized this, I was amazed. Basketball fans shell out hundreds of dollars a ticket just to sit in the nosebleed section at any Division I game, but there I was sitting in the front row of a championship basketball game for a fraction of the price.
Before I go any further, I’d like to say that I’m not a moron. I understand that a KU or Missouri game is a little bit more prestigious than an MIAA game. People pay all that money to watch those games for the same reason that fans from Fort Hays State drive all the way to Kansas City: to support their team.
But the real problem that I have with this isn’t that Division I sports are so expensive or that our conference tournament was so cheap to get into. It’s because Division II sporting events, especially in conferences like the MIAA, are ridiculously under-attended.
Every time that I question someone on campus as to why he or she isn’t going to the basketball games on a Wednesday night, I’ve always gotten the same answer: “Well, the basketball team’s not that good, is it?” or “It’s Division II…” as if those are acceptable excuses to disregard a sporting event for a college that you chose to attend.
Yet, even when the basketball team was 8-0 to start the season, and fans were starting to talk about making a run at the conference title for the first time in a decade, attendance was running a little under 2,000 with most of those fans being older Pittsburg residents or marching-band members. Even though that is a respectable number, I have to place the blame solely on the students.
I have to admit, there was one time when I was ashamed to be a Pitt State basketball fan. And it wasn’t last season when the men’s team went 3-17 in the conference, and it wasn’t this season when it failed to clinch a playoff berth four games in a row.
The most disappointing moment in my short career as a Gorilla was on Jan. 11 of this year, when UNO’s Alex Welhouse drained a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired inside John Lance Arena – in front of one of the most quiet crowds I have ever seen. That was one of the more-attended conference games this season with over 2,300 fans.
But the culprit isn’t that the home basketball games aren’t promoted well enough, or that most of the home games fall on a weeknight. It’s that our students would rather go to the bar on Wednesday nights to watch a basketball game on a 19-inch screen than come out and support our school.
And for those of you who are reading this and think I’m wrong: I’m not. As a proud supporter of the Pitt State basketball programs and a fan at every home game this season, I have never been more disappointed in my fellow students. And I dare you to prove me wrong.
With one of the most well-known athletic programs in Division II sports, we have some of the best football fans a team could ask for. But when it comes to basketball, we simply are some of the worst fans money can buy.