Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Mark Hollis gives his take on fan engagement at MSU sporting events

January 22, 2016
<p>Sparty poses for a picture with students behind him on Oct. 9, 2015, during the Izzone Campout at Munn Field. This annual event consists of students staying throughout the night in hopes of getting lower bowl seating. </p>

Sparty poses for a picture with students behind him on Oct. 9, 2015, during the Izzone Campout at Munn Field. This annual event consists of students staying throughout the night in hopes of getting lower bowl seating.

Photo by Alice Kole | The State News

As ESPN's College GameDay in East Lansing creeps closer, Breslin Center rests quietly waiting in anticipation for the upcoming festivities.

But with the Spartans men’s basketball program on a two-game home losing streak and three-game overall losing streak, many fans are seeking a reason for the team's struggles.

The struggles have led to some fans and students alike having issues regarding Breslin Center's crowd. More specifically, the vaunted Izzone, MSU’s student section.

But at the Michigan Associated Press Sports Meeting Tuesday, MSU Athletics Director Mark Hollis disagreed with backlash on the crowd.

“The Izzone should not have taken any heat (Tuesday night)," Hollis said. "I thought they were incredible. I don’t know who was giving them heat."

It’s not just the Izzone who has been receiving scrutiny, though. After a poor showing in the Spartans' last home football game against Penn State, overall student commitment has been questioned for a while now.

“I don’t blame students for lack of support," Hollis said. "We’re in a time period where every generation is a little bit different and approaches things in different ways. Not going to a game does not mean you don’t support a team. ... People my age have to have a better understanding of what makes a 18, 19, 20-year old tick. That’s a challenge for a lot of folks.”

With enrollment at about 50,000 students, critics are quick to point out how there should be more student involvement within both home football and basketball games.

But Hollis wants the skeptics to know in the new age of technology and televisions, going to the game doesn’t necessarily equal student support.

“Our student base is extremely supportive and very passionate about our sports," Hollis said. "But that doesn’t mean that they’re going to show up for every game because their lifestyles are different. ... I come from that 'we’re all in this thing together.' If anything breaks down, we need to make sure that we’re pushing to keep the program moving forward together. If our student body doesn’t have the student athletes there and if our student athletes don’t show up, that’s a challenge."

While what Hollis said might be true, the Izzone will have the opportunity to prove the detractors wrong. With Saturday's game slated for primetime on ESPN, the Izzone will be on full display to let the skeptics judge.

As the team is also struggling, this will be the perfect chance for the student section to show their influence as the green and white "sixth man."

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