On Saturdays die hard Griz fans pack Washington-Grizzly Stadium and make it one of the louder venues in college football. Those unable to go to the game pack local restaurants and bars to support their beloved Griz every week. My question to Griz Nation is where are you come basketball season?
Over 25,000 fans go to football games every Saturday while the basketball team averaged 4,005 a game (2011-12) according to the teams media guide. Since Wayne Tinkle took over the average attendance has gone from 4,041 fans a game in 2006 to 4,005 last year. Really Griz Nation? That is pathetic.
The Griz have won two out of three Big Sky conference championships and have won 18 straight conference games and haven't suffered a conference loss at home in 21 games. Last year's squad set a record mark for Big Sky wins in a season and this year's team has a chance to be even better! Yet when I go to cover the games on Thursdays and Saturdays there are thousands of empty seats in the gym.
I know Missoula is a football town now but back in the 70's and 80's the average attendance at basketball games was in the 7,900-6,500 range. How many years of conference championships will it take for the Griz to get back to those attendance marks? Or will it take a win in the NCAA tournament to get fans out? I don't know the answer but fans should be there now.
I remember the environment in last year's conference championship game against Weber State and Damian Lillard. It was phenomenal. But as the fans sporting their white t-shirts made Dahlberg electric, I remember getting an annoyed feeling in my stomach. Where were these fans all year? A season ticket holder told me he felt the same way I did. He told me that after supporting the team all season he was annoyed at those bandwagon fans who showed up only to watch the championship game.
I agree with his sentiment. If you call yourself Griz Nation go out and support the basketball programs, and I don't just mean the championship and Montana State games. I'm not saying you have to go to every game but realize and appreciate the high level of play this Griz team is performing at. There should be at least 6,000 fans supporting both programs every home game and if you take pride in being a part of Griz Nation than show that support and get out to watch one of the better mid major teams in the country.