The UCO Faithful…Or Unfaithful?
Students cheer on the Bronchos from the stands at the first football game of the season on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. Games following the first of the season typically see less and less attendees as the semester goes on. Photo by Ryan Naeve, The Vista.
Football games used to be the highlight of the week for the University of Central Oklahoma’s students, but recently that hasn’t been the case. Other than the team not producing quality records, everything is the same as it was in the past, but there’s also a drastic difference.
My father rants and raves about his four years at UCO back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He also voices his disgust with the direction it has gone in since he’s graduated.
Seemingly, the excuse for nonattendance is the lack of campus life and a small number of enrolled students actually living on campus. But it’s always been like that — at least for the past 35-40 years. The only difference is that students used to care more about their university.
It wasn’t just a place to get a degree; its students supported the Broncho name like Oklahoma and Oklahoma State students support their school.
There was pride in this institution being the “OKC metro’s university.” Somehow, the school spirit dissolved over the years.
The easy excuse would be the team’s 63-72 record over the last decade. The honest assessment of this program during that time period has obviously been below average to average.
Losses historically don’t attract crowds, but at the same time, a great deal of sports teams’ success relies on support and the crowd’s involvement — football specifically, due to it being a sport highly reliant on momentum.
Wantland Stadium seats approximately 10,000 people, according to D2Football.com, which means the home side presumably seats somewhere about 7,000-7,500. In UCO’s latest win over Missouri Southern State, the total attendance of the game was 1,985, including the visiting team’s fans, according to UCO’s athletic department.
For UCO to have the 16th largest stadium in division two football and tied for the largest in the conference, this is an embarrassment and probably a quarter of the reason why this program hasn’t performed at a high level.
I’m not in the marketing profession, and I’m not sure how UCO can attract more students to games other than the first game of the season and homecoming, but something needs to give.
It shouldn’t take bribing or an unbelievable recruiting class to draw students to the games. The desire to cheer for their school should be enough. But since that isn’t happening, UCO has to come up with some strategic advertising techniques to fill the seats again.
Talking to former members of the football team and even current members of the basketball team, they almost all say that the talent is there, they just don’t have the support needed to build momentum in games. Momentum builds confidence, and confidence turns into successful seasons.