450 Ohio State students is enough to create an intimidating lecture hall environment.
It’s nearly double the size of Ohio State’s revered marching band, which has enjoyed nationwide attention for years.
But 450 Ohio State students is not enough to create a supportive environment inside Value City Arena at the Schottenstein Center, especially for a consistently low-performing Ohio State men’s basketball team.
According to James Prisco, 2016-2017 Buckeye Nuthouse Director, an average of 450 students made the trek up Lane Avenue for each game this season, filling up less than 20% of the student section’s 2,400-person capacity. While a variety of factors likely contributed to the low attendance (USG’s attempt to recover a failed ticket-incentive program, the team’s struggling record) a much less visible factor is the simple laziness of students.
While Buckeye football fans may never stray far from the ‘Shoe, our basketball team does not hold the same rich, winning history. Therefore, in order to entice students to commit the 3-4 hours an entire game experience usually consists of (between walking to the Arena, the game, and walking home), not only do we need to create a more enticing environment—we need to shorten the time commitment.
Though the distance from the Ohio Union to the Arena is under two miles, it is at least a twenty-minute walk. This may not seem very long in comparison to fifteen minutes students have in between each class, but it can feel even longer in winter’s cold. While a consistent game day bus route would likely only cut travel time to the Arena by about 10 minutes for students, a round-trip reduction of 20 minutes and shelter from walking in the cold could be enough incentive for more students to commit to attending games.
In addition to providing better transportation for students, we should work to combat their laziness inside of the Arena, in terms of getting more students to participate in the Nuthouse’s cheers. The current set-up of the Buckeye Nuthouse, spread across two seating sections, is not conducive to the best possible student section. As we do not currently fill both sections, and have not sold out the student ticket section since the 2013-2014 season, limiting the Nuthouse to only the section behind the team benches could help provide a better atmosphere for students.
Having the student section more condensed would make it easier for the Nuthouse committee to lead cheers throughout the arena, which would provide a better atmosphere for students and general fans alike. Additionally, a smaller student section would create a more competitive ticket-buying experience, which could cause students to hold themselves more accountable for the games they do choose to buy tickets for.
While it may take a trial-and-error process to determine which tactic(s) will increase overall attendance at these games, the first efforts should be concentrated on students. If the enthusiasm of students is brought back the arena, people will be more excited to attend games, with less dependency on team quality.