Ever since the final blow of the whistle ended Nevada’s football season, student support at Wolf Pack sporting events has gone the way of the Dodo bird.
Nevada basketball, both men’s and women’s, has certainly struggled mightily this year with a combined 17-38 record, but the attendance at Lawlor Events Center has hit an even lower valley. Total attendance for men’s basketball has fallen from an average of 6,466 last season to a mark of 5,467 (under 50 percent of the stadium’s total capacity of 11,536) this year.
Of course, the Wolf Pack hasn’t given fans much to cheer about, but the student section has been a graveyard this semester. The responsibility for creating student goodwill falls on a variety of outlets from the athletic department to the Greek houses, but the group that should be taking the lion’s share of rebuilding fan support should be the Pack’s official spirit club: Blue Crew.
Established at the height of Nevada basketball during the 2003-2004 season when the Pack made a run to the NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen, Blue Crew has been an integral part of bringing fans closer to the action. From offering memorable shirts to rewarding the diehard fans with exclusive perks, Blue Crew is known all throughout campus. However, this year has been a far cry from where the group was over a decade ago and consequently has struggled to maintain consistent fan interaction at Nevada sporting events.
Having a winning team would naturally improve the lack of fan support, but there are things that the group can improve on moving forward. For instance, readjusting with ASUN and allowing a system for members to pay for some gear, instead of just rewarding solely off of merit, will give the fans more of a reason to get their money’s worth from games.
However, keeping the merit reward system is essential to maintain fans coming back. It should also be noted that though some of the ideas Blue Crew had this year were amusing (Brock Hekking mullets at football games and shooting sleeves for basketball), the efforts on the year as a whole have been in vain.
Even if Blue Crew does start to show out more in certain games (student fan attendance at football games during the first half of the year was exceptional) an even more important issue might lie beyond the spirit squad. Nevada fans are notoriously prone to withdrawing support when the Wolf Pack fails to perform on the field or the court.
It is also somewhat commonly known among Pack athletic teams and other members of the Mountain West that Nevada fans have a reputation for not showing up when the weather is less than ideal.
However, when they do come out to games, they either have a nasty tendency to leave at halftime or an even nastier tendency to heckle and threaten opposing schools and fans (e.g. Boise State). With the combined forces of apathy and poor play, Blue Crew has an uphill battle, but there is hope on the horizon.
Blue Crew will not have long to wait for its next opportunity to make an impact. With the baseball season already underway with what is possibly Nevada’s best squad since the turn of the century, Blue Crew will have an easy pitch to sell to students. Yet, with Reno’s most unpredictable weather occurring in the spring and with baseball already entrenched as the least popular of the “Big Three” Wolf Pack sports, it is going to be harder than the normal fan might think.
Nonetheless, this is the group’s best chance this year to show that they are still a strong part of campus traditions.
The Nevada Sagebrush editorial staff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @TheSagbebrush.q