What is the "#4" sport at Michigan?

Submitted by Wolverine Devotee on February 11th, 2014 at 2:39 PM

Been meaning to ask this question for awhile now. What is the #4 sport on campus?

Football is obviously and always will be #1. Basketball and hockey are interchangable at 2&3 depending on who you ask. #4 is pretty much a free-for-all.

Obviously winning boosts your attendance. Softball? Baseball was pretty popular in the 80s with the Middaugh teams just looking at attendance figures.



February 11th, 2014 at 2:51 PM ^

he did indicate he meant perception and said something about depending who you ask. I don't think this is dollars and cents as much as "what order do you want national championships to rain down in".

But yeah, dollars and total fanbase wise basketball is definitely number two. If not, hockey would play in Crisler with ~13,500 seats and basketball would play at Yost with ~6,700 seats, not to mention network TV, ESPN, ect.


February 11th, 2014 at 2:56 PM ^

The athletic department budgets for 2011 and 2012 - the most recent I have - would confirm that, by revenue, the order is indeed football, basketball and then hockey at the top. I couldn't get clear indication on what #4 might be by revenue because the line item for everything else in the summaries is simply "other", and indeed, the combined revenue from "other" doesn't hold a candle to the first three. 

That being said, I think it was a question of perception, but the tangible data would agree with you. 


February 11th, 2014 at 2:58 PM ^

like you mention, there aren't line items in the budget for other sports, but I'd have to assume it's WBB next. Baseball and softball have a travel bill that most likely far outstrips any other ticket selling sports and the NCAA tournament contract for basketball brings home the second most dollars.


February 11th, 2014 at 3:11 PM ^

it was often a heated argument about what was #2. In the late 90's - early 2000's, the hockey team was a perennial tournament team who had the most feared student section in the country, playing in front of a packed Yost almost every weekend. On the other side of the athletic campus, basketball was hopeless, playing in front of a few thousand people most of the time. Did a student section even exist during that time?

I think that right now (and for the foreseeable future) basketball is clearly #2


February 11th, 2014 at 3:24 PM ^

But even then, basketball outdrew hockey (having a larger arena obviously helped, but still) and during our brief moments of (apparent) respectibility, like the half-season of Jamal Crawford, basketball attracted a lot of attention.  There were only a couple of years where attendance was really bad.  Most years under Amaker, we expected to make a run at a tourney bid coming in, only to be disappointed.  I remember the MSU game in 2003 when we ended our losing streak to Izzo, and the atmosphere was fantastic - packed house, everyone going crazy.  We just couldn't sustain any momentum until Beilein got here.

I would describe hockey as a strong niche sport - it attracts a very loyal, passionnate fanbase, but can't really become mainstream on campus for whatever reason.  We went to the Frozen Four when I was at U-M, but aside from the diehard hockey fanbase, most students didn't pay that much attention.  




February 11th, 2014 at 5:19 PM ^

Hockey doesn't garner the same media attention as basketball and obviously football. This is true for American media as a whole.

I don't know this for a fact but I'd be willing to wager that the only schools in the state of Michigan where hockey is #1 would have to be MTU, LSSU, and Ferris.

I do believe that hockey is the only D1 sport at all three of those schools which is probably why hockey is most prominent


February 11th, 2014 at 3:04 PM ^

There is a hierarchy in the sports department.  You start out writing the odd story here and there, and then you cover a nonrevenue sport.  If you do a good job, you have a chance to move up to hockey or women's basketball the next year.  From there, the next level is men's basketball.  By the time you make it there, you're usually in your third year at the paper and are putting in considerable hours.  Football is for seniors who have climbed the ladder.  By that point, you're talking about people who have worked on deadline for three full years before this assignment.  (Personally, I did not have that level of dedication and hung 'em up after a year in nonrevenue sport obscurity.)

I'm not sure if there is quite the same hierarchy in the news department.  I seem to recall new staff writers making the front page pretty quickly.  That seemed like more of a free-for-all.


February 11th, 2014 at 3:07 PM ^

It's quite impressive to read some of the sports articles and immediately know that the writer is at a national-newspaper level (and have the NYT, Pitt-Post Gazette, ESPN, etc, agree).

On the other hand, the editorial board pieces (and editorial board meetings, a few of which I attended) left a lot to be desired. They definitely had a distinct flavor of "I just took freshman philosophy/political theory/gender studies classes with textbooks provided by the Huffington Post and here's what I learned".