With Family Weekend finally here, people were out in troves for the first Ball State home game of the year.
As someone who usually reports on the Cardinals, this was my first experience spending time with family before the game in the tailgate lot, even if I left early because I was still covering the game.
To put into words what the tailgate scene was like, I can put it simply. There were a lot of people. No really, a lot.
From Tillotson Ave to the Ball State softball field, the lot was packed with vehicles, people and in some cases, even dogs. To see the amount of people not only having a good time but doing so to support a school and a community as a whole was truly great to see.
That is why sports are so great; They bring people together. Sports brings the Ball State community and the Muncie community together.
What other things do this in a positive manner? Hardly any.
For an afternoon, there is not much else on people's minds other than football. I mean come on, it’s the best.
A 15,054-person crowd in the first game at Scheumann Stadium was great to see, and it is a positive start to the season. A great mark to look at, and an important one at that.
The problem is, Ball State fans (and the Mid-American Conference in general) have a problem of not showing up to games as the season goes on. Fans around the community love to come to family weekend and other mass gatherings like homecoming, but the minute the Cardinals play a ‘normal game’, the crowd dissipates.
They’ll still see the players' families and the dedicated lifelong fans, but they’ll lose fans who are just here for the event as a whole, not the football game. This is fine, not everyone likes football, but is that the point of sports?
To me, it’s not. The greater meaning of sports to me, as previously mentioned, to bring people together.
Sports can bring two people who have never met, to high-fiving and talking for hours just because they are wearing the same team across their chest. After the Indiana State game, head coach Mike Neu said the atmosphere and large home crowd helped keep the energy and “juice” in Scheumann.
I hope I’m wrong about fans not coming after Family Weekend, because not only do I love a good atmosphere in the stadium, but the coaches and players also feed off of it.
It is exciting to hear the crowd roar when something good happens, and when a crowd is not there, the silent celebration amounts to less.
I would love to be wrong because this sport is a great thing.
The student section was full to start the game. Something most are accustomed to seeing. As the game ended, half the people who started the game there were nowhere to be found. Something most are also accustomed to seeing.
I am not sure what the problem is with keeping students in their seats. Could something like the free food and drinks seen last year at men’s basketball games work, maybe? A full section adds to the overall energy of the game and that of the teams on the field.
The crowd has gone down after week one in years past, but it doesn’t always have to be that way.
So will every weekend look like a family weekend? Maybe not, but I sure hope so.