I’ve always been disappointed by the low attendance at Dinos games. Every time I’ve gone to a game, regardless of the sport, the stands are mostly populated by small pockets of friends and family. There has never been a solid foundation of fan support from the student body as a whole.
Obviously, you can’t expect the same level of attendance for the Dinos as NCAA athletic events in the United States. The level of play in the United States is higher, and the NCAA is far more popular than Canadian Interuniversity Sport. That being said, there should be at least a couple thousand fans at Dinos games, especially for the more popular sports like hockey and basketball.
Apart from football, attendance for these sports is usually around 200–500 fans. For less popular sports such as wrestling, field hockey and even soccer, attendance is even lower, averaging as few as 100 fans or less. For the performance level and for a student body as large as the University of Calgary’s, these numbers are far too low.
There are many reasons for low attendances at Dinos games. The games usually take place on Thursday or Friday evenings, when many people are eating dinner. Some students do not realize that Dinos games are free for them.
Also, Calgary already has a variety of professional sports teams to follow. Why watch a bunch of student athletes in their late-teens and early-twenties when you can watch physically and technically superior athletes who are on million-dollar contracts? Cities like Saskatoon and Victoria may have to rely on their university teams to fill a demand for live sports, but Calgary doesn’t.
These excuses are a shame, because university athletics can be fun to follow, especially for students. While going to a Flames or Stampeders game is great, fans can’t relate to the athletes they are watching. When you’re watching the Dinos, you can nudge your friend and say, “That guy is in my stats class.”
The main reason why Dinos games don’t get high attendance though is because they aren’t marketed enough.
The exception is when the university arranges special events to help boost attendance. Events like Kickoff, Pack the Jack and the Crowchild Classic are the only occasions where Dinos games attract a significant portion of the student body. Students go to these events and enjoy themselves. Even students who have no interest in the sport being played admit to having a good time. The combination of a raucous atmosphere and the drama of a sporting event creates a fun social experience. The popularity of these events proves that students do enjoy watching the Dinos, when they’re willing to go.
The reason Pack the Jack and the Crowchild Classic are so successful is because they are heavily marketed. In the weeks prior, posters advertising the event line the hallways throughout campus. Emails from the Students’ Union are sent encouraging students to go. UThisWeek usually mentions them and participating athletes even hand out pamphlets and other reminders the morning of. This is the effort required to convince a decent amount of U of C students to go to games.
If the university treated the regular season the same way they treated Kickoff, the Dinos would have more fan support and their performances would be better. As someone who used to play competitive sports, I can vouch for the fact that nothing pumps up a team more than knowing they have a big crowd on their side. A big crowd brings out extra motivation for a team and allows them to push a little bit harder. A loud crowd also intimidates the away team and interferes with their focus. There is a reason why home-field advantage is so crucial in professional sports. Big crowds simply motivate teams to perform better.
Just because you don’t enjoy a particular sport or know much about it doesn’t mean you won’t have a good time watching the Dinos. Gather some friends, wear something red, have some drinks beforehand and cheer like crazy every time that guy from your stats class scores a point or sinks a basket.