Images of empty stadium cause concern, embarrassment

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    Student leaders discussed low student attendance at the last home football game against Kansas during the SGA House of Representatives meeting Tuesday.

    Images of the TCU crowd in the second half against Kansas spread on social media nationally after the game.

    CBS Sports posted a brief article on its front page Saturday featuring a photo taken by Stefan Stevenson, the TCU beat writer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The picture shows a nearly empty east side of Amon G. Carter stadium during the fourth quarter of the game.

    Stevenson wrote that the photo was taken when the Horned Frogs and the Jayhawks were only separated by a touchdown.

    At the SGA meeting, Student Body President Cody Westphal discussed the picture and increasing school spirit, which he described as one of his top priorities.

    “Hopefully that picture won’t be a reality after SGA gets involved,” Westphal said. “I encourage all of you to get people to games and to figure out the best way to keep attendance high all the way through games.”

    Photos and discussion of second-half attendance were also featured on the Star, ESPN, the social media website Reddit and the Big Lead, a sports blog run by USA Today.

    The images from Saturday contrast with an official attendance close to 42,000 and season ticket sale figures on the rise, bucking a national trend.

    In response to the images, Mark Cohen, assistant athletic director for media relations, said, “TCU has an incredible and passionate fan base and we appreciate everyone’s support.”

    Westphal said he was disappointed when he saw the images online. He added that he thought the photos made the attendance seem worse than it actually was.

    “I would hope people understand that Saturday was a perfect storm of bad conditions,” he said.

    An uncharacteristically warm and humid day for mid-October played a role in low student turnout, Westphal said. According to the Star-Telegram, the temperature reached 91 degrees with an average humidity of 83 percent.

    Additionally, the game kicked off shortly after 11 a.m., the third morning home game in a row for TCU.

    Vice President for External Affairs Hillary Shepheard added that many students are turned off to early games after long weeks of exams and classwork.

    In addressing low student attendance, Westphal said he is in favor of adding yell leaders and pep rallies to support the team and foster school spirit.

    Despite negative reactions online to the images from Saturday, Westphal said school spirit needs to be raised to support the football team on game days.

    “I don’t care what people on internet boards or … what random sports articles say,” he said. “I care when my friends, peers and players look up at the stadium and see that.”

    Westphal said the pictures and the media attention should be taken as a learning point for TCU students. 

    “When we get to see what [the players] saw, it’s a reminder that [students] do play an important role.”