A new semester brings in another fall season at Chapman, as sports like football, volleyball and soccer all gear up for their respective slate of games. And yet, as teams assemble on their field or court, the stands can sometimes feel rather empty. In this vein, fall sports not only reference the season, but may also reflect the declining crowd turnout.
Senior Nayelli Munoz of the women’s volleyball team remembers a 2018 game against Pomona College as a low point when it came to audience involvement.
“There were five people in the stands,” said Munoz, a psychology and Spanish double major. “In the past, our attendance wasn’t the best.”
Yet despite an occasionally lower-than-desired attendance for sporting events, Chapman athletes like Munoz have been taking measures like promoting games on social media to try and increase the number of spectators in the crowd.
“We advertised our home opener pretty heavily and we got a fair amount of people,” Munoz said. “We got a good amount of the football players and other athletes and we also had a lot of parents and friends come out.”
By taking to Instagram and Facebook, athletes believe they’ll be able to reach more students and improve the atmosphere at home games, said Sal Ochoa III, a senior on the football team.
“All of us have been trying to use social media to post our schedule all over the place,” said Ochoa, a communication studies major. “We also have faculty and other staff let students know about what’s going on throughout the week.”
In addition, Faith Holloway, a senior on the women’s soccer team said that the Chapman Student-Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) holds fundraisers during home games to grab the public’s attention.
“SAAC did a Chick-fil-A fundraiser where they handed out free coupons at our game to try to draw more people,” said Holloway, a biological sciences major.
Munoz attributes more than just advertising to the lack of attendance. She believes the student body simply might not understand or appreciate the rigor that National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III sports require.
“The competition in Division III is not as good as it is in Division I, so it’s less appealing, but I don’t think people realize how much time we spend and how hard we work every day,” Munoz said. “It’s our whole lives right now.”
This shared understanding of the effort required leads athletes at Chapman to support one another on game days.
“We all go to each other’s sporting events,” Holloway said. “After our game on Wednesday, a lot of people went over to the men’s water polo game since they were playing at home – athletes supporting athletes is huge at Chapman.”
However, attendance seems to be improving, particularly for the football team. Ochoa indicated that the team actually received a substantial amount of support under the lights of Wilson Field on Sept. 21, their first home game, despite receiving notably less in their final home game last season.
“When we do get big crowds, the stadium atmosphere is really fun and it’s a great place to play,” Ochoa said.
Ultimately, fans bring to the game an aspect that players cannot – noise. Ochoa remembers games against University of Redlands in particular as presenting tough battles on the road, because of their fans’ ability to be loud and create hostility. If Chapman students can do the same, he said, it would make for a fantastic and improved stadium environment.
“It’s important because it makes the games more fun for everyone,” Ochoa said on drawing a crowd. “The fans will have more fun if they get more involved, then it helps us on the field, knowing people are there bringing the morale and energy up.”