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Will 2015 be the year of the MAC?

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Year after year, the MAC is plagued with low attendance and even lower enthusiasm. Will 2015 be more of the same?

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Well folks, a new year is upon us. That's right, 2014 is in the past, and rather than reflect on the events of last year, I'm going to take a look forward to 2015.

Every year, it seems we have the same conversations about MAC events.

"Yikes, not a lot of people at this game, huh?"

"Did you see that crowd? There's no one at that game."

"Wow, the stadium looked about half full. Pretty good turn out!"

The marketing departments do everything they can to fill those seats. Short of giving everyone who shows up a puppy and a coupon for free tuition for life, they've done it all. And yet year after year, we find ourselves with stadiums that, on a good day, can reach half-capacity.

We scoff at the University of Michigan's attempt to fill their stadium (OK, that was pretty funny), but who are we to laugh at other schools' attendance woes, even if it is Michigan.

Want to know the reported attendance for the next EMU home game? 827. What a fall back to Earth that was.


Look, I went to Eastern Michigan, and I know it's not exactly the best representation of the conference as a whole. We consistently have some of the lowest attendance rates in the country for most of our events, and our student body is pretty apathetic when it comes to athletics.

But this isn't just an EMU issue, it's a conference issue.

So, in the spirit of the new year and looking toward the future, I ask you: How do we fix this? How do we get fans excited about MAC sports?

Now, before everyone shouts "WIN MORE GAMES!" at once, I get it. Having more winning programs would obviously be the first step toward building a bigger fan base and creating more conference relevancy. But is that the only option here? Are we really saying that until the majority of MAC teams are above .500 no one will come to games so why even try?

Maybe.

Maybe my expectations are too high. Maybe I'm just too naive to think the MAC will be any more than what it is now.

Because, well, we've had those winning programs and even they struggle with ticket sales.

#MACtion

We're all familiar with "MACtion". I challenge anyone reading this to say they haven't used that hashtag at some point in the last year.

Regardless of your feelings on the MACtion craze, we can all agree that, if anything, it's created more fan engagement and gotten people a little more excited about what the MAC has to offer.

How far can that really take us? Does social media have the kind of impact we need?

I'll use yet another EMU example:

If you haven't heard, the Eagles men's basketball team recently defeated Michigan, and shortly after #EMUHoops was a trending topic. Suddenly my timeline was full of Eagle pride, even MAC pride. Want to know the reported attendance for the next EMU home game? 827. What a fall back to Earth that was. Unfortunately, it's not all that rare in our conference. But let's not discount social media as a whole. Those brief moments of triumph over the Twittersphere are good publicity, we just need to build our community beyond the handful of people casually live-tweeting a basketball game.

What's next?

I'm not going to sit here and say I have all the answers. To be honest, I don't have any. I don't know what it's going to take to fill the seats. I don't know what it's going to take to build our programs into something fans care about.

So, what do you think? What's it going to take to get people excited about the MAC? Can 2015 be our year, or are we in for more of the same?