They call that a student section

It needs help.

Major help.

With less than five minutes to go before the men’s basketball team tipped off against Johnson and Wales there were all of three people sitting in the M.A.W.L. (Mighty Athletic Wolverine League) section.

That says a lot.

It was one game, and others joined the early arrivers (if you call five minutes before a game early), but there weren’t more than 30 total the entire game. This wasn’t the first or last time.

Against Arkansas State last Wednesday, it was better with 10 people there at tip-off.

It is the first year of the new student section, the first year students have had to pay a price to go to games, and it hasn’t gone so well.

It seems even the couple thousand students who did shell out the $20 for the pass were willing to give the money but not willing to give the time.

The big idea was to have students pay so there would be value attached to attending the games. Students didn’t bite. I know plenty of people who were happy going to the games without cost, and come on, if anyone had a choice to pay or go for free, no one really wants to pay.

No one.

And not all students want a shirt, megaphone and crappy food before a game. Some just want a game.

The dream of a rambunctious, rowdy crowd is a great dream. It would be something else to pack the McKay Center with thousands of green-clad students cheering and chanting from start to finish.

That was the vision student government saw when they took over. It was the same vision the Wolverine Spirit Task Force had when it came up with the idea to have students get actual tickets, which members of the task force said they would use because they had them. But it hasn’t happened.

It might take more than a year to see students caring about athletics here, but to make an impact faster it will take dropping the $20 cost.

There’s one school in this state that charges students for athletic events, and that is because the demand is there.

Here, with no demand and without the athletic department’s full support, a group made a mistake in deciding to charge students for something they didn’t care about, successfully driving away the students who did go.

A promotion last week for “Pack the House” night for a women’s basketball game was shot because of the power outage. Maybe that was the best thing that could have happened.

Not because it was a bad idea to go for an attendance record – but to really pack the house, let students in for free and let them know it’s free. The next time there is a plan to go for an attendance record, if students are let in free, more will go.

It’s been difficult to draw a crowd, so if there are going to be tailgates and T-shirts, charge for those, but let the games be free.

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