Feature on the decline of attendance at UH sporting events


About having season tickets for UH women’s basketball games, Jennifer Shishido said (during a game where the turnstile count was 272 in the 10,300 seat Stan Sheriff Center):
“We go because the players work hard and they’re good students.” (HA)

About how her husband Norman likes to go to the games (which has had an attendance just above 200 for much of the season) with her, Jennifer said:
“He doesn’t like crowds.” (HA)

HA Note: “To be sure, the scene at the Sheriff last week was a far cry from the heyday of the program, when thousands of fans flocked to the arena to watch former coach Vince Goo’s squads compete in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament. On-court mediocrity and off-court controversy have taken a toll on the program’s fan base, but the Wahine’s declining attendance is hardly an isolated situation in the athletic department. According to university officials, attendance is down across the board in both men’s and women’s sports.”

HA Note: “After a historic undefeated regular season and subsequent Sugar Bowl bid in 2007 — a community-galvanizing run that drew thousands of new fans to Aloha Stadium — the UH football program suffered a $1.2 million dropoff in ticket sales last season, generating a three-year low of $4.65 million in 2008. The Rainbow Wahine volleyball program, the department’s only other revenue-generating sport, saw its attendance drop from 41,325 in 2007 to 33,691 last year, resulting in a decline of $55,000.”

HA Note: “The athletic department generates about 85 percent of its $29.5 million operating budget. The balance comes from university general funds and is used for operation of lower campus facilities and scholarship support, according to UH.”

About the mistakes made with the Athletic Department that have contributed to the poor financial state they are in now, UH sociology professor David Johnson said:
“It seems quite clear that the Herman Frazier hire was a disaster. But there are also a number of coaches who have not done very well and are not held accountable for poor performance.”

About how JJ has some players with academic problems, David Johnson said:
“When (June Jones) was around, his teams would often do well on the field but there were a lot of problems in the classrooms. I found that to be a silent sacrifice that people were willing to accept, but I was frustrated being in the classroom with players who clearly were not into it.” (HA)

About the botched handling of Sugar Bowl tickets, Johnson said:
“They covered it up until the media cornered them on it, and then they responded only grudgingly.” (HA)

About the need for accountability throughout UH, Johnson said:
“Where’s the accountability? My impression is that there are some pretty glaring areas where there is little or no accountability, but it’s not limited to the department. It’s that way throughout the university. People in positions of responsibility, whether it’s the AD or the chancellor, the president of the university, have to pay attention and hold people accountable.” (HA)

About UH’s emphasis on athletics is a cause of concern, Johnson said:
“I am happy that UH tries to foster excellence in athletics. But the vast majority of UH students do not participate in intercollegiate athletics, and some of them have excellent academic potential. If this university’s core mission is the pursuit of academic excellence, then why is it willing to bleed big money year after year after year for a small handful of student-athletes while at the same time making no serious commitment to cultivating the potential of its best and brightest undergraduates?” (HA)

HA Note: “The designated Manoa Maniacs section at athletic events is intended to promote student involvement and build a sense of campus community. At the UH-New Mexico state game, the section was occupied by a single Maniac — 22-year old biology major Tyler Law. Law was there to support his best friend, a cheerleader, but he was also happy to cheer on the Wahine.”

About the poor turnout by the students, Tyler Law said:
“I’m usually the only student-student in the section.” (HA)

HA Note: “Law said the drop in attendance for UH games could be due, in part, to a lack of “highlighted players.” He said there was interest in last year’s men’s basketball team because it was Bob Nash’s first year as head coach and Nash’s son, Bobby, was part of the team.”

About how the students don’t know the players on the men’s basketball team, Law said:
“This year, there’s Bill Amis and … who? You see the rest of them and it’s like, ‘I wonder who that is?’ ” (HA)

HA Note: “Law said the football program will always draw fans because, in the absence of pro teams, the Warriors are the team Hawai’i fans follow with the most enduring interest.”

About how the fans will always come back to the Warriors, Law said:
“People might lose faith in them for a week or a day, but they’ll be back in the stands the next year.” (HA)

About how student interest and involvement in UH athletics is low because UH is a commuter school, Law said:
“The local students live in Pearl City or ‘Aiea or the North Shore. Locals who go to UH aren’t going to want to go to the games if they’re home already, and the Mainlanders who live here aren’t really into this school’s sports because they’re into the big name schools.” (HA)

About how he continues to go to women’s basketball games, Michael Little said:
“I come to support them because they play hard, although, it’s obvious that they need a different coach.” (HA)

About HF giving Bollla an extension, Little said:
“When there were problems with this team and Frazier gave Bolla a new contract, it was like he was saying he didn’t care about women’s basketball. I think they needed to change athletic directors, and they did, but it takes time to solve the old problems — just like in Washington.” (HA)

About how UH teams get more attention because their are no pro teams in Hawaii, Little said:
“I have a lot of hope. I think UH sports should be a big success because there are no professional teams competing here. They get more attention than college teams in L.A. who have to compete with all those pro teams.” (HA)

About how UH needs to do more to attract the young fans (who will bring their parents) to UH baseball games, UH fan David Nip said:
“If you give free tickets to Little League teams, they’ll bring their parents and that means more sales at the concessions. It’s not the attendance, it’s the concessions. UH needs to start thinking more like a business. That’s the main thing.” (HA)

About how UH needs to hire the right coaches despite the limited salaries it can offer, Nip said:
“I’m old enough to understand that people come and go and there are always good and bad times. This is a small school and we don’t have the money to hire the big-time coaches so try to hire the best coaches possible, hopefully local people who have a passion for Hawai’i. There are a lot of guys who come here who aren’t local, but they become local. Stan Sheriff wasn’t from here, but he became local. It’s too early to judge (Donovan) but he’s a Hawai’i guy, he has Hawai’i in his heart and he wants to be here. He’s trying his best, and, remember, the deficit wasn’t from him.” (HA)

About how the fans in Hawaii will support the UH athletic department, Orry Collazo said:
“Even if we don’t go to school here, the sports keep us connected. That’s why we support whoever is trying to help this school and this program. As long as their trying to help this school and Hawai’i become greater, I’m all for it.” (HA)


One Response to “Feature on the decline of attendance at UH sporting events”

  1. Garin Says:

    First blog I read after wakeup from sleep today!

    Are you tension? panic?

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