Every time a game goes long, stretching into extra minutes and innings, people ask the questions: What fans stay? Why do they stay? Is it to cheer on their team, out of a sense of obligation or the hopes of seeing a miraculous moment?
People rarely ask about the opposite, about the reason some fans choose to leave games early, be it in the first quarter or the last five minutes, or when the student section clears halfway through what becomes an 0-49 blowout. Perhaps more curious though are the people who leave early no matter the score, in a game where their team is performing at or above expectations.
The University of Connecticut student section was not exactly full even at the start of their game against Wyoming — at best there were about 100 people. It was a far cry from the opening game of the season where the student section was relatively full, or even from the recent beatdown against Purdue.
The Huskies’ promising start to the game and halftime led to a very different student section than previous games this season. The number of students didn’t dissipate nearly as quickly, but slowly people still began to trickle out as the game progressed.
Just at the start of halftime, a freshman named Connor Anthony got ready to depart. Anthony noted he had to leave to “go visit [his] friends.” Anthony went on to explain he was attending the game to “have fun and tailgate with my friends’ parents,” rather than seeing the game itself.
Due perhaps to the team’s above-average performance through the game, few people left at halftime. Doug Jackson, a sophomore, was in the minority. He left because “UConn is more of a basketball school but they’re playing great today, although it’s not the atmosphere [he wants] to be at.” Jackson then added he came because “[He] had nothing else to do, but now it’s nighttime and it seems like a good time to go.”
At the start of the fourth quarter, the Huskies were up three points and things were looking promising. Despite that, sophomore Sara Beth made the decision to leave because she was “going to a fair” and that she came to “support the Huskies.”
With 6:40 left in the fourth and UConn up 16-10, a student who identified himself as Ryan Reynolds got up to leave. He mentioned his plan to “get lit at a bar and watch Wyoming blow.” Despite leaving the game early, just before Wyoming would take back the lead, Reynolds was still planning to watch the remainder of the game.
As the clock read 3:34, hope looked slim for the Huskies who had just gone down by eight points on a Wyoming touchdown. Freshman John Womelsdorf started off by explaining the improbability of UConn scoring the critical game-tying touchdown and noted he “wanted to catch the bus.” When asked why he wasn’t sticking it out for the last few critical moments, Womelsdorf remarked he was leaving “because [he was] disappointed and sad.”
The Huskies did score though — this time on an electric run by freshman Nate Carter. After they missed the two-point conversion with four seconds left, though, the seats emptied out as the game concluded. Despite the team’s struggles throughout the season, the close scoreline of Saturday’s game helped keep fans in their seats even with attendance at an all-season low. Against Purdue, when the team lost by seven touchdowns, the story may have been very different.