Clash of Fans: The best student section in the MAC

Courtesy: Toledo Blade
Courtesy: Toledo Blade

There is one debate that cannot be settled on the court or the field: Who are the best fans in the Mid-American Conference?

The MAC is home to many die-hard fan bases and rivalries. Although Ohio’s student section has been named “The Best Fans in the MAC” in recent years based on attendance, a thorough review of each school’s support group proves that the title might not hold much value. As we evaluate average attendance, social media activity, traditions and popular chants, it’s up to you to figure out who should hold the title of “The Best Fans in the MAC.”

The MAC is a unique league because the schools are relatively close to each other, creating familiar rivalries.

“Our fans are just like those you see from the Big Ten or SEC,” Jeremy Guy, the Assistant Commissioner for Communications and Social Media for the MAC, said. “What makes our conference unique is that all of campuses are within driving distances. Many people have friends at another campus in the MAC so it makes for easy road trips & great trash talking among friends during the season.”

Although they cannot suit up and play for their favorite teams, the importance of fan support could impact a contest’s outcome.

“I think a huge majority of coaches in America would agree that a home court is worth five or six points, and sometimes greater than that if you have a home court like ours,” Ohio basketball coach Saul Phillips said.

Phillips praises fan support to the extent that he welcomed the idea of honoring “the sixth man,” a common nickname for student sections, during the opening lineup before home games. Each game, one lucky fan is given the opportunity to be introduced just like the players and even joins the team in the pregame huddle.

“Here’s the deal, I love the O Zone. I want them to love us,” Phillips said. “We’ll do anything we can do to help bring the students closer to our program.”

Ohio’s new tradition might inspire other schools to start finding ways to thank their loyal fans. And they should, because a lot of these schools have some pretty passionate fans.

Twitter’s increasing popularity has allowed fans to continue supporting their teams long after the final whistle blows. The amount of activity from designated student section accounts, however, usually depends on the team’s success.

“Like anything, I think you notice a presence on social media when a team is doing well.” Guy said. “(Buffalo’s) True Blue stood out this past basketball season due to how well the team was doing.”

Another thing to keep in mind about Twitter activity: not all fans are able to make it to every game. Following a student section account might help maintain a strong relationship with the team for alumni.

Check out the followers for each student section’s Twitter account.

But what about in-game support? How crucial is it? After all, if no one is at the game, how could you possibly be the best student section?

“Students should plan their weeks around sporting events,” Guy said. “Going to a sporting event on campus is your chance to show you are part of something, part of your school. Being able to give your school a home court advantage is something that I don’t think should be overlooked.”

Attendance is the only consideration Ohio puts into determining who are the best fans. But for the rest of the MAC, look through the attendance numbers for the 2013-2014 basketball season, as well as the fill-to-capacity percentages per arena.

Now that we have an idea of which fans show support in and outside of competition, it’s time to look at how they show support during games. Check out this video of some of the unique fan traditions and chants in the MAC. (Shoutout to YouTube channels Luke Zerkle, plowerman78, James Rider, TrueBlueUBathletics, CMichathletics, Jamie Rathbun)

Because I don’t want to leave anyone out, here’s a slideshow of the rest of the schools in the MAC.

Fans in the MAC by Slidely Photo Gallery

Now that you have seen the statistics and the evidence of how supportive these schools can be, it is your job to figure out which school has the best fans.
Let us know in the comments below or interact with us on social media using the hashtag #CCbestfans.

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