Free food? No thanks

Portland State men’s basketball had its senior night last weekend. In the days leading up to the match against Sacramento State, PSU marketed the game in their typical fashion. Instagram pictures and tweets filled up their social media.

The @PSU_Vikings Instagram page posted eight pictures about the game, calling it sellout Saturday. They also made sure to mention that every student who attended would get free food. For those of you who don’t know, PSU has been promoting free concessions for students at basketball games for the last two seasons.

The Vikings fell to Sacramento State 73-60 in front of a full-capacity Peter W. Stott Center on sellout Saturday.

PSU’s free concession deal has been a part of a long list of marketing promotions that have tried to attract more students to games. It’s no secret that one of the biggest (if not the biggest) problem for the PSU athletic program is their lack of fan involvement. So to solve that issue, the marketing department addressed the largest reason for students not attending games: food.

Whether it’s Kobayshi eating two Domino’s pizzas or PSU students having the ability to eat as much as they want, the Vikings have made sure there will be no lack of food at any sporting event. Kobyashi has come to PSU on two different occasions to support both the basketball team and the football team. He’s done halftime performances that included out-eating PSU students.

Enough PSU students live the trope of the starving college student—you know, the all-you-can-eat Top Ramen diet—for the marketing department to make feeding students the number one priority of the athletic program. While food is a good way to fill the hole that PSU students can’t fill with winning, even free concessions haven’t done the job of getting students out to games. The men’s basketball team has seen three games sell out in the last two seasons in the 1,500-seated Stott Center.

Don’t fall for the fact that senior night sold out as proof that any of these promotions are working. It sold out because it was senior night, and while students don’t act like they care about athletics all the time here, it is clear that for sellout Saturday, they did care. For any other game, it didn’t matter how much free food was handed out. The 1,500-capacity Stott Center was not full.

Handing out free food is a slap to the face to the Vikings athletic program and any students that have any interest in attending a game. It’s telling everyone involved in this community that winning is not a priority of the school, but at least you can get a free dinner of Snickers and popcorn while you watch your school lose.