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Spring sports struggle to draw attendees

Tricia de Groot | Wednesday, April 6, 2005

For the first time since August, Notre Dame is without either of its two most popular fan sports, football and basketball. Campus is not without a plethora of spring sports, but student attendance isn’t quite the same.”The only students that seem to regularly attend our events are the competitors’ closest friends,” said Stephanie Best, a pole vaulter for the track and field team.Track and field athletes are not the only ones with a small fan base. “Our crowd is pretty much always the same – family members, boyfriends, roommates and an occasional high school team,” said softball player Nicole Wicks.However, not all athletes feel that the reason for this small showing is the same. Track, for example, usually only has one home meet per year – which Best attributes to a subpar facility – and this year Notre Dame will not be hosting any home outdoor meets.”One of my roommates is on the track team, and it is disappointing that there isn’t a home outdoor meet this spring for me to watch him perform at,” sophomore Ray McCarthy said.In addition, track meets tend to be all-day events, which Best feels discourages students from attending. The need for a better venue is also a factor athletes feel discourages a high student turnout. “I think that we would have a higher attendance from both students and those in the community if we had a facility on par with other programs of our stature,” Wicks said.Lack of publicity was also cited as a reason for low attendance.”The leprechaun doesn’t come to our meets, and I think if he did it would draw a lot more attention,” track team member Tommie Lee said.Spring athletes also feel that a lack of interest in spring sports can be seen as something unique to Notre Dame. “When we travel, we usually run in sold-out arenas,” said Lee.The Midwest may also be seen as a region not known for spring sports fans. “Many programs on the West Coast and in the South have high attendance by both their student bodies and their communities,” Wicks said.However, there are some students who really look forward to spring season. “When it’s nice out, there is nothing I enjoy more than going to a baseball game,” sophomore Lauire Wasikowski said.