The University of Toronto is home to over 40 sports teams, each composed of talented athletes who are also students’ peers. Our teams work hard and play well, but one thing has been recurrent during the sports season: the lack of attendance at home games.
Attending university games boosts the team’s morale and is a great way to show support for the school, but the fact that attendance numbers have been dwindling have our athletes wondering: where is everybody?
This year’s homecoming game was against the York Lions, where U of T came out on top, winning with a score of 70–0. It was a great game and approximately 2,220 students came to support the team. Our football team also played at Western’s homecoming game, where over 11,400 students attended.
Attendance hasn’t always been so shabby; in 1974 when Toronto played Western during the Vanier Cup at the CNE, around 25,000 people came to watch. This is one example that may indicate that the location of events may have an impact on attendance.
Sports like basketball and volleyball, which usually take place in the Athletic Centre’s Sports Gym, have the lowest attendance, and there have been times when there hasn’t been a single person in the crowd.
Games that take place at Varsity Arena usually have a few hundred attendees, and numbers range significantly for games played in Varsity Stadium, from zero to a few thousand.
Attendance for bigger games, like Ontario University Athletics and Canadian Intercollegiate Sports, also follow a similar trend. There are usually a few thousand people at the games, ranging from about 1,000–4,000 students.
Other reasons for the lack of attendance can range from a lack of time to attend to a lack of effective advertising by the Varsity Blues.
“I don’t attend the games because I never really see advertisements for them. I’ve only ever seen the ad for the homecoming game. I would really like to go for the experience but as of right now, it’s not really a priority,” said Danielle Owusu, a second-year student.
Second-year student Monica Sallai had a similar remark: “I don’t go to games because I really don’t know when they are, and honestly I don’t know any of the people on the teams.”
Other students say that sports don’t really interest them and that they usually have other priorities, which makes coming out to games difficult. What may help to improve attendance at games may be more effective advertising on the part of the Varsity Blues, incentives to attend the games, and games being played at U of T’s new Goldring Centre.