I knew that BG has not been drawing well for basketball. This has been going on for some time. However, when I looked at the MAC attendance, I was shocked that we are, in fact, not alone in this issues. In fact, for MAC games only, BG outdrew Miami this year, something I would not have anticipated seeing. I put arrows next to the teams that drew fewer than 2,000 fans per game, which I would view as a pretty minimal expectation. (I included CMU, which is awfully close). OU draws well no matter what, and Kent and Akron were OK. Ball State seems to have some residual support. Note that many sources have told me that UT's attendance counting is notoriously generous. Perhaps that is true across the board.
Now, looking more specifically at Bowling Green (all games now), and you can see how things have played out for the last five years. It is not a good story. The last Dakich year and the first Orr year were really bad. We did pick up a little the last two seasons, but still pretty anemic. Yes, I know that 1,700 is 30% more (about) than 1,300, but that's what you get with such low numbers.
What's behind this. First, we have had losing years 6 of the last 8 seasons. We play a very conservative style of basketball. And the school and community have lost touch with the basketball program--at least for the men. I can remember when you would see everyone you knew at a Falcon basketball game. They just weren't missed. Not true anymore.
The MAC has had a similar issue. As you can see below, average attendance has fallen significantly since 05-06. While the drop has apparently bottomed out, it represents a lot of things that I have blogged about before--the lack of NBA quality players, the similarity of play throughout the conference, and the loss of a connection to hoops programs at other schools similar to what has happened at BG.
This is all part of the challenge to the MAC to bring basketball back. These are modest goals we are seeing here. Each of the schools in the MAC has to be about the business of rebuilding its fan base and giving people something to be excited about again.