“We’ve got spirit yes we do”? Fan attendance dwindles as season progresses


Photo courtesy of @ChurchillK9 on Instagram

In the season opener against WJ on Sept. 3, the Dawg Pound showed out for an away game as they packed the WJ visiting bleachers.

By Justin Greenzaid, Sports Editor

“We can’t hear you!” chants the WCHS football team’s student section. At a few games throughout the year, this chant can be heard by opposing spectators, but at others, the WCHS crowd is nowhere to be seen. A common recurring phenomenon within the WCHS football season is that the first few games draw in massive crowds of students but as the season progresses the crowd begins to dry up. 

The football team gets new opponents on their schedule every two years, making this the second season in a row where they have played the same opponents. In both seasons it has been apparent that the Bulldogs’ fanbase has been bustling in the beginning of the season and a train wreck later on. For the most part, the only games that draw crowds are the season opener against Walter Johnson, home opener against Blake, rivalry game against Wootton and homecoming game against Whitman. All of which take place in the first month of the season. Games that close out the season such as Clarksburg, Poolesville, Richard Montgomery, and Gaithersburg, draw very little attention.

“It’s very obvious that as the season goes on there are less fans at games,” WCHS senior captain Jamie Calhoun said. “Last year especially, even though we were on an eight-game winning streak, the amount of people at games decreased even though the amount of wins we got increased.” 

Just like last year, the team looks to go on a winning streak to close out the season, but for most of these games, the crowd size will be in jeopardy. Although it is quite difficult to pinpoint one specific reason for the decreasing fan attendance, there are a few factors that contribute to the dilemma.

Weather is a huge factor as the games at the beginning of the season are played in gorgeous 70-degree weather and students are still excited to get back to Friday night games. As the conditions get colder and students have to begin to wear jackets and pants to games, less of them are willing to go. Another factor for this year especially is that three of the last five games are in unfavorable locations. For the games on the road against Clarksburg, Poolesville and Richard Montgomery, many students feel the drive to the game is too far and not worth it. Overall hype for football season also tends to die down as academic work begins to pick up pace and winter sports start stealing attention from students. The hockey season begins during the football season which is quite detrimental to football attendance. Students also begin to shift focus to the next big season: basketball. 

“I think one factor of people not coming to games later on in the year has to do with how good the football team is that year. If they are not good then nobody wants to watch a team lose week after week, especially as the games get colder and colder towards the end of the season,” WCHS senior Reed Drummond said. “When there are not as many kids at football games it’s pretty hard to have a good time. There is no spirit and no chants when there aren’t as many people at the games.”

Although the football team was able to make an electric run last season heading into the playoffs even without a huge fan base supporting them, this year’s squad will definitely need a little push from the fans. At the end of the day there are only so many high school football games. Students should take the time to enjoy them, even if it means spending 20 minutes on I-270 or having to bring hand warmers in their pockets.

It is important as a school to have a high spirit level especially for one of the most anticipated sports like football. With so many various school social media outlets hyping up games weekly one would think attendance would be higher. To have bragging rights against newly rivaled schools like Walter Johnson, the Dawg Pound support needs to be amped to a new level to cement itself as the greatest school in the county.

“I think the only thing I could say to kids to try to get them to come to games later in the season would be trying to convince them to support the team that has been practicing since August, and explain to them how hard they have worked,” Reed said. 

Fan attendance almost always has a domino effect because once numbers start dropping they only continue to fall. It is crucial that the numbers do not begin to drop early on, especially with the underclassman, so that other students still enjoy going to games as well.

More importantly, though, the football team counts on the Dawg Pound for support. To be able to provide a spark for them late in the season would be huge, especially if they end up with a playoff matchup against a rival school.

“I would tell them that for us to perform and do our best we need everyone’s support and that the support means so much to not only me but the entire team,” Calhoun said. “Having a big crowd just makes you want to play better because you have the people that you have grown up with and go to school with everyday supporting you and that makes you want to perform your best.”