Tide's 'smaller' sports receive less recognition, fans than other athletic teams

When you think about the SEC, the first thing that comes to mind is football. Basketball might pop up, but mainly it’s football. At Alabama, football is life. Fans live and die for it and people who don’t really like the sport will start to get into it. But compared to other sports such as golf and swimming and diving, die-hard fans aren’t so common. The real question is, where are the fans?

Now I’m not hating on football – believe me, I’m a die-hard Tide fan – but the amount of commotion isn’t the same for all sports. I’ve been to more non-football games since coming to Alabama, and it’s rather drastic how much of a difference there is in the fans.

For instance, look at our soccer team. There are four stands in the soccer complex that barely get halfway full. On average, there were about 210 attendees per game. More people attended games when there was a theme such as The Power of Pink, but other than that not many people showed up.

It’s not that the fans don’t support all of the teams. If someone says “Roll Tide” for any sport, everyone will reply with “Roll Tide.” The loyalty is there but the attendance isn’t always.

Fans don’t always know when there’s a game being held or if it’s special. For tennis, does anyone really know off-hand when the next match is unless they actually follow the tennis teams? Or for swimming and diving, does anyone know that Alabama made it into the SEC championship?

It’s not hard to get swept away with the big sports like football, basketball, softball and gymnastics but if they weren’t NCAA champions, would the fans be just as supportive? Some students say they only go to games because either the teams are winning and they want to be a part of that or because they are well-advertised.

Compared to the football program, advertising for other sports isn’t as extreme. If a sport isn’t ranked, hasn’t won a championship recently, or didn’t dominate in the SEC, then the students don’t know about it. We see promotional posters for gymnastics on corkboards and restaurant walls, but we don’t see anything about golf or rowing. And yes, we do have a rowing team.

Last week was National Signing Day and the UA Athletics Facebook page posted every football recruit that signed. They didn’t post any other sport’s recruits until the end of the day, however. Football recruited 25 new players. Track and field/cross country recruited 12 new runners. You don’t see the same amount of posts or special pictures about track and field like you do with football.

If people aren’t informed of what’s happening in our athletics department, then fans won’t show up to games. Women’s basketball on Sunday had 1,311 people attend the game and a majority of the attendees were Girl Scouts. There was also a large number of the opposing team’s fans cheering on Arkansas.

The Athletic’s Facebook page does an adequate job of promoting the upcoming events but the viewers aren’t always as gung-ho about lesser-known sports. More people commented on the upcoming gymnastics meet because they know we are nationally ranked and because it is against Auburn.

As students, we want the convenience of knowing what’s happening at all hours of the day. The only problem with that is that without constantly advertising and publicizing events, we won’t remember or go to a game. I’ve had more people message me asking me what I was doing and when I told them I was at a game they would question if we really had a game or not. They would also go further with wishing that they knew about the games earlier because they would’ve liked to have gone. If that’s not enough proof that people want to be fans but don’t know about the games, then I don’t know what is.

I know without a doubt that more people would attend if they knew there was something going on in the athletic world. Students that grew up playing a sport still have the passion to go to a game and watch our team play. I make sure to attend all the home swimming and diving meets because I used to swim and I enjoy following our team and its success. But if we don’t go out and research sports outside of the main four, we don’t know what’s going on.

There is a fan inside everyone, but they don’t show up if they don’t know what’s going on. Sports don’t get the fans they want to get because people aren’t always in the know of what happening. And that’s why smaller sports don’t get the fans.

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