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Opinion

Declining basketball attendance will hopefully be reversed by promotional event

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February 15, 2007

Attending sporting events is fun. It’s sad that a promotional event had to be planned to remind students of this, but it was necessary.

Kram Karges, a promotional event set up for students, by students, helped bring in the biggest home crowd of the year for the Falcons men’s basketball team on Feb. 7. Going into the game, the average attendance per game was 255. Kram Karges brought in nearly twice that amount, with 503 people coming out to see the Falcons take on UW-Eau Claire.

For the first time this year, the Karges Center was packed, and this likely had an impact on the outcome of the game.

“I think having a good student section there, cheering us on, helped us get the W,” coach Jeff Berkhof said.

River Falls won the game by a final score of 68-66, with the win marking the Falcons’ first victory in a game decided by four points or less.

In a community the size of River Falls, with a student body that flees campus in herds on the weekends, it’s tough to pack the stands on a consistent basis. It becomes even harder once people get into the habit of staying in instead of going out to see Falcons athletics, and that’s why it was important to have this promotional event.

Students need incentive every once in a while to make plans to go see a game.

“I have wanted to attend several games but I always get sidetracked with homework or something else that I need to get done,” student Nick Monterotti said. “The T-shirts and the idea of a packed house, along with my want to see a game, forced me to clear my schedule.”

Kram Karges was set up by the 23 students enrolled in the Sport, Fitness and Recreation Management (Physical Education 450) class taught by Berkhof.

Geni Rieckhoff and Breamber Syverson, who volunteered to be the two student leaders of the event, said they think this should be a yearly event to get people to come to games and promote more fan support. Hopefully next year, the event can be planned during first semester.

Monterotti said the event has already inspired him to attend more sporting events.

“After being active at the basketball game and really enjoying myself, I have had the urge to go to hockey and lacrosse games and be supportive of their teams,” Monterotti said. “I think with having a Division III sports school, most of our sports are brushed aside by the student body, but they should really be embraced. We should support each other and the activities we participate in.”

UWRF needs more fans like Monterotti, who not only attends sporting events, but also immerses himself in the games by cheering to try to create a home advantage for the Falcons.

On Feb. 7, Monterotti was one of the only fans who stood up and cheered before the final minute of the game. For the Falcons to truly have a home court advantage in the Karges Center, there needs to be more than just bodies; there needs to be noise as well.

“It was fun to see the student section side filled up a little bit,” Berkhof said. “The next objective is to get them to actually cheer and get into the game and get crazy.”

River Falls certainly has a limited potential fan base, but Feb. 7 showed us that enough people are out there to fill the Karges Center.

Berkhof said that while the Karges Center ranks last amongst WIAC facilities in niceness and newness, it can also be the best home court advantage and most fun atmosphere to have when the place is full.

Students were reminded on Kram Karges night exactly how fun this atmosphere can be. So stop complaining about how there’s nothing to do in River Falls. Find a sporting event and cheer on your fellow classmates … even if you don’t get a free T-shirt.

Mark Haley is a student at UW-River Falls.