With Gary Williams being feted and hated Duke in the house, the student section at Comcast Center is certain to be packed Wednesday night. One Maryland student, however, wishes it was like that for all games and has started a Web site, BetterTerps.com, “to encourage all students at UMD to take advantage of the great opportunity in front of them in order to raise attendance and the volume in the Comcast Center.”
Scott Block, a Maryland sophomore and life-long Terrapins fan from Columbia, said in an e-mail interview that he originally started the site “to build excitement about the upcoming Duke game.”Fans can read a Maryland basketball timeline, see a list of Maryland’s NBA lottery picks and players whose jerseys have been honored, buy Terrapins gear and see countdown clocks not only for the Duke game, but for the rest of Maryland’s home games this season.
“I felt some resentment from the community that fans need to be supportive of all games, not just the big ones,” Block said. “As a big fan and a student who does go to all of the games, not just the big ones, I thought the time was right and the community would be willing to back a little push to get people excited about Terps basketball.”
Maryland’s basketball attendance has fallen steadily in recent years and is down 31 percent since the 2008-09 season, when the Terrapins averaged 17,048 fans per game. Maryland has averaged 11,762 fans at 11 home games this season, down from 14,910 last season, 16,792 in 2009-10 and 17,048 in 2008-09. The Terrapins made the NCAA tournament over the first two years of that stretch, but didn’t reach the postseason in Williams’s final year and stands at 12-6 this season in Mark Turgeon’s first season as head coach.
Maryland isn’t alone in confronting a decline in attendance. Dwindling student support at Cameron Indoor Stadium has forced Duke to sell some student seats, which would have been an absurd thought not that long ago.
Faced with a rocky financial future, the Maryland athletic department is looking for ways to boost revenue from a men’s basketball program that remains highly profitable.
Block thinks the drop in interest has more to do with simply wins and losses.
“Obviously winning is a huge part of it, certain students will be a lot more interested in a better basketball team, but I do think there's a little bit more at work,” he said. “I tend to agree generally with [ESPN anchor and Maryland graduate] Scott Van Pelt on the subject that as Maryland has become a better school academically, students have given less time to being a fan. The irony of course is that Maryland has become a better school academically in large part due to the increase in admissions after winning the Men's National Championship.”
Block said he’s received only positive feedback about the site for now, and that “the consensus seems to be that it is if nothing else a good and much needed start.”
What do you think? Do you agree with Block’s thoughts? What do you think of his site? Have at it in the comments.
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