Simpson holds its own in sporting-event attendance

by Eli Taylor

Attendance at sporting events is mutually beneficial to fans and athletes – it gives the fans something to do and it gives the athletes an audience to perform for.

“When the crowd is yelling and going crazy and on their feet, it’s so crowded – it’s electrifying to be an athlete,” said junior Scott McCarty, a member of the Simpson football team.

Division III athletics may not draw in the crowds that Division I athletics do, but numbers don’t matter as much as the quality, and Simpson has some quality fans.

“The grandstands are full for every game,” said junior Kasey Keimig, a member of the Simpson softball team. “And it’s not always the people you’d think it is.”

In general, women’s athletic events have good attendance. According to the NCAA, Simpson led the nation in average softball attendance in 2003 for Division III, and 2004 was the first time in seven years they were not in that top spot – second only to Louisiana College.

Men’s athletic events draw in large crowds too. Sports Information Director Matt Turk said that the capacity for Bill Buxton Stadium is 5,000 and it’s frequently sold out for games against Central.

The Simpson rivalry with Central is a big draw for spectators. Basketball, football and wrestling have all had their highest attendance while facing the Dutch rival.

“On average though, we are about normal for our games since I’ve been here,” Turk said.

One reason women’s softball has record-breaking attendance every year could be that it has about half the number of game dates as three of the other top five teams. The team also has a lot of fans at its games because Simpson doesn’t charge attendance during the regular season. Even at playoff games the team still has an audience because these games have a lot of energy behind them.

“We’ve got a really great fan base here,” Keimig said. “Those people just love to come out and watch us play.”