There’s a thing that sports fans online like to do when engaging with fans of rival teams called, “crowd-shaming.” It probably doesn’t need to be explained — the name alone should be enough to go on — but just for the sake of caution: crowd shaming is the practice of calling out a school or fan base for poor attendance despite the promise of at least decent results.
There are a number of reasons why crowd shaming is bad, not the least of which is that going to sporting events is an expensive thing to do, especially when you could watch the game in the comfort and practice fiscal responsibility in your own home. There’s also the security of knowing you won’t be arrested if you throw something out of frustration.
Still, crowd shaming happens. There’s no way around it, especially when once proud programs find themselves in rebuilding mode, much like Missouri has been in for the past several years. Fans never like to miss out on pointing out Schadenfreude whenever they see it. Looking at you, Tennessee!
For several years now, Missouri has been fighting the attendance battle, actively hunting down fans to get them through the gates on Saturdays. It seems to be working: the attendance numbers this year indicate a level of interest that hasn’t been present since the latter days of Gary Pinkel. For Saturday’s drubbing of SEMO, more than 56,000 fans showed up to drink a beer, eat greasy concession stand food and do the Missouri Waltz after the first quarter (a good decision, IMHO, though who could blame someone for defecting after getting to finally check the waltz off their gameday list?)
For perspective, here are a few teams that didn’t get to 56,000 fans in week three.
Arkansas: 55,583 on hand to see them beat up on Colorado State.
Arizona: 37,307 showed up to watch Khalil Tate run around everyone in the Texas Tech program.
Ole Miss: 45,238 watched the Rebels almost poop their pants to Southeastern.
Oregon: Yes, even No. 16 Oregon struggled to bring fans, only attracting 49,098 to watch the nationally-ranked Ducks play Montana.
Missouri, on the other hand, hosted an FCS school that looked clearly overmatched before the season ever started. These types of games are kryptonite for athletic departments, especially ones still suffering casual fan apathy after a season opening loss to Wyoming. But on Saturday, more than 56,000 people showed up to cheer the Tigers to victory, even if a win was assured after only eight minutes.
This coming Saturday will be a different story. South Carolina is coming to town, and even if almost no one knows what the Mayor’s Cup is, there’s sure to be more fanfare for the Gamecocks than there were the Redhawks. Two years ago, it’s the type of game Barry Odom would be begging fans to show up to. Now he’s finding fans after games to personally thank them for coming and staying. The head coach may not have won over the hearts of Arm Chair Twitterbacks, but he’s certainly trying with the laypeople.
So with the meat of Missouri’s schedule looming — and few concrete answers on whether or not the Tigers are as good as they should be — it appears fans have responded to everything the university is throwing at them. From the new South End Zone to alcohol access, a trip to Memorial Stadium feels more worth the price of admission than ever.
Here’s to hoping, however, that those are just footnotes to a major Missouri victory come early Sunday morning. If Tiger fans are going to show up in droves to watch the Tigers put the hurt on an in-state blood donor, the least they can do is show up in a big way against a conference foe which may or may not be the breakthrough this season’s team needs.