Football: Despite the Wildcats’ record, some Northwestern fans are staying loyal

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Football: Despite the Wildcats’ record, some Northwestern fans are staying loyal

The crowd at Ryan Field on Saturday against Minnesota. Despite the Wildcats’ struggles, several fans are still staying at all games from start to finish.

The crowd at Ryan Field on Saturday against Minnesota. Despite the Wildcats’ struggles, several fans are still staying at all games from start to finish.

Noah Frick-Alofs/Daily Senior Staffer

The crowd at Ryan Field on Saturday against Minnesota. Despite the Wildcats’ struggles, several fans are still staying at all games from start to finish.

Noah Frick-Alofs/Daily Senior Staffer

Noah Frick-Alofs/Daily Senior Staffer

The crowd at Ryan Field on Saturday against Minnesota. Despite the Wildcats’ struggles, several fans are still staying at all games from start to finish.

Benjamin Rosenberg, Web Editor

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Even for the most loyal Northwestern fans, 2019 has been a challenging year.

Gary Tucker, who has rooted for the Wildcats since the early 1970s and became a season ticket holder in 1998, had never left a game in Evanston early — until this season.

“There’s only one game that I left with a couple minutes left, and that was the Ohio State game,” Tucker said. “It was just a miserable night that night. But generally, I don’t leave until the game is over.”

Tucker, however, is much more the exception than the rule. Attendance at Ryan Field dropped by an average of 6,137 fans per game from a season ago. And the numbers tell only a small part of the story. NU’s game against the Buckeyes on October 18 was considered a sellout, but because the Cats entered the matchup 1-4, many fans who had tickets did not show up. The announced crowd for the UMass game on November 16 was nearly 30,000, but the actual attendance was maybe half that many.

The Cats’ winless record in Big Ten play has not deterred everyone. Javan Quiroz, an Evanston native, said he will always root for NU and treats the Cats like a hometown professional team.

“I understand the stands clearing out and people leave, but I’ll stay until there’s nothing left to give,” Quiroz said. “When we do get up there in the conference and we do win those games, I don’t want to see the same people coming here and chanting like they’ve been here the entire time.”

The student turnout has also been notably lower than last season, when NU won the Big Ten West title, but some students have not only come to every game — they’ve stayed until the very end, even though the Cats have lost four home games by 16 points or more.

Weinberg sophomore Mary Grace Ramsay said the football games bring the school together, no matter the quality of the team.

“I just like the school spirit,” Ramsay said. “At the end of a tough week, it’s fun to be able to look forward to a game and a chance to hang out with friends and cheer, even if you know the outcome is probably not going to be great.”

Five of NU’s seven home games have started at 11 a.m., which Ramsay said could deter students from coming out. She also said the fact that the quarterback position has been in constant flux has made her less emotionally attached to the team.

Tucker was adamant he will be in the stands regardless of the Cats’ record, and even if his normal seat mates are not. He said he normally sits near a father and daughter, but they were not at Saturday’s loss to Minnesota.

Despite this being potentially NU’s worst season in 30 years, Tucker said he has not lost faith. He keeps coming because he prefers the atmosphere of college football to the NFL, and is confident the Cats will be better in 2020.

“Especially the last home game of the season, Senior Day, I feel bad for them that it’s not a bigger crowd,” Tucker said. “After next week’s game, I’ll give a ticket rep a call and ask when the renewal time is because I’m in for next year.”

Email: benjaminrosenberg2021@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @bxrosenberg

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