Opinion: Flashes’ fan depreciation

Jody Michael

Jody Michael

Jody Michael is a junior broadcast journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

The Kent State men’s basketball team’s 61-55 loss to Akron at home Friday night was embarrassing.

After securing a 27-18 lead at halftime, the Flashes promptly let the Zips undergo a 22-2 scoring run in the next eight and a half minutes. Had Kent State not scored in the game’s final minute, the team would have finished with as many turnovers as field goals.

Kent State had 21 layups — second only to dunks as the easiest shots in basketball — and missed 11 of them, more than half. Carlton Guyton missed each of his first six three-point attempts; wasting those possessions when he was obviously cold from beyond the arc didn’t help.

Fixing these mistakes is the job of coach Rob Senderoff. But who is in charge of addressing the lackluster effort from the fans?

I hope everyone who was there will admit the truth: The AK-Rowdies were a far better cheering group than Kent State’s student section. For that to occur at a home game, when Akron fans counted for just a few hundred of the 6,335 in attendance, is a disgrace.

Each chant the Akron fans started was loud and in unison the instant it began, whether the Zips were down by eight or up by 11. But whenever the Flashes were in a scoring drought, fans not only lost their energy but also stopped trying to regenerate it altogether.

Can loud fans make a difference in a game’s outcome? I think so. The Seattle Seahawks and LSU Tigers have notoriously loud football stadiums that hurt coaches’ ability to communicate with their players; plus, consider that basketball arenas hold noise much better than open-air stadiums do.

So when the only thing the student section managed to easily coordinate was a useless “U-S-A” chant to mock foreign Akron player Nikola Cvetinovic, that shows clear room for improvement.

The AK-Rowdies are unpleasant, obnoxious loudmouths, but that’s the point. Their ability to create unavoidable applause for the visiting team made Kent State’s lack of momentum sting several times worse. They’re annoying, which means they’re successful.

What needs to change at Kent State to make our fans as thunderous? I’m not sure, but I know we should have that discussion.

Should we find a way to make the cheerleaders more audible? Would the Krew be able to circulate helpful guidelines for sparking more life in the crowd? Could the athletic department adjust when certain announcements and promotions occur during game breaks to any effect?

The university can only benefit from giving this thought. If fans become more engaged and rattle the other team’s concentration, that will lead to more wins and more exciting games in general, both of which sell tickets.

Perhaps this is stupid to mention with no more regular-season home games this season, but we have eight months to figure this out for next year. When athletic director Joel Nielsen arrived in 2010, he wanted 90,000 people to come to our pathetic football team’s home games and somehow succeeded. So can’t we find a way to get 6,000 basketball fans to simply cheer a little louder?