Penguin Fans an Endangered Species

A small number of fans attended a Clark game against Pierce College on Jan. 12. Based on a poll
conducted by the Indy, out of 254 responses only 8 percent said they had attended a Clark athletic
event. (Kamerin Johnson / The Independent)

By Becca Robbins in Sports

Every athlete loves a home-court advantage. The energy and enthusiasm from a full stadium can sometimes be the difference between a win and a loss.

Empty bleachers can also affect the game.

A 254-student online poll conducted by The Independent found that only 8 percent of students have attended a sporting event while enrolled at Clark. Reasons for not attending ranged from not knowing games times to having a busy schedule.

Some students said they were unaware that Clark had any teams at all.

“I didn’t know there were sports events at Clark,” said one student in their poll response.

“I just have not had the time,” Richard Stone said. “I think I might try this quarter.”

When fans do show up however, Clark athletes are able to feed off of their energy.

Taylor Howlett, a Clark basketball player, said that the noise level definitely affects her when she plays.

She recalled an event hosted by Clark athletics called “Blackout Night” where each fan was asked to wear black to the game. She said it was the most fans she ever remembers seeing in her time at Clark.

The Penguins won that game.

Athletic Director Ann Walker and new Assistant Athletic Director Chris Jacob both plan to bring more awareness and support to Clark’s athletics.

“That’s my number one focus,” Jacob said. “Making sure people show up at the games.”

Jacob himself was an athlete in college and understands what a large crowd can do to a game. He plans to reach out to students and inform them of athletics at Clark and game schedules. He said he also wants to build a following for the teams online.

Walker sees the addition of Jacob to the department as a chance to get more fans in the bleachers.

“Eventually it won’t be a game they’re coming to,” Walker said. “It will be an event.”

Although student admission is free, ASCC Student Relations and Promotions Coordinator Anna Evanson said that she just doesn’t have the time to come back to Clark in the evenings for games.

Evanson pointed out a lack of school spirit. Howlett said that parents take up the majority of the seats.

Walker said that part of the responsibility rests with the athletes. Getting to know their peers and informing them that they are student athletes will encourage more people to come support them.

Cori Murray said that she attended a basketball game last year and that there was a decent-sized crowd. She said she thinks that more word-of-mouth advertising will really draw students.

According to the poll, of the students who do attend sporting events, most go to men’s basketball games. Women’s basketball and volleyball rank second and third.

Gettysburg College Professor Darren Glass conducted a study that found there is a strong correlation between fan attendance and winning percentage for their baseball team.

This year Clark has seen both men’s and women’s soccer teams and the volleyball team advance to the playoffs. Both basketball teams have winning records and are fighting for a Northwest Athletic Conference berth.

However, it seems that Clark athletics’ success is going mostly unnoticed.

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