The fact that Penn State fans love their football is no secret to anyone. You don’t get one of the biggest stadiums in the world because people are ambivalent about a sport.
But just how much do the Nittany Lion faithful support other sports?
While the 99,351 average attendance at Beaver Stadium gives the university a solid rank of sixth in the country and third in the Big Ten when it comes to the gridiron, there are other sports where the lions really roar.
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Take women’s soccer, for example. The Nittany Lions average 1,869 fans in the stands for each game, the most in the Big Ten for that sport, and in the whole country, only five schools post bigger numbers.
And then there’s field hockey. Field hockey? Yes, field hockey.
Over at Pegula Ice Arena, the men’s hockey team may be pulling in bigger attendance numbers than any non-football sport on campus in the fall, with about 6,126 people on hand for puck drop, but the rankings there mirror football, at third in the Big Ten and sixth in the nation.
The ladies of the field hockey team, however, average 576 fans. That might not sound like much compared to some of the other teams’ totals, but although it is the lowest total of all the fall-winter sports, it does something all athletes aspire to achieve. It takes first place.
More people show up to watch Penn State women play the sport than any other field hockey team in the country or the conference.
The other fall sports rack up points, too. Women’s hockey is second in the College Hockey Association and seventh in the U.S. Women’s volleyball is third in the conference in and fourth in the country. Men’s soccer takes the bronze for the Big Ten.
All together, that means more people are showing up for Penn State sporting events in the fall than at stadiums and fields in any other college in the country, according to the NCAA.
“Penn State has a student, alumni and fan base that is second to none, and it shows every week with the type of support all 31 of our programs receive,” said assistant athletic director for marketing Brad Keen. “Our student-athletes and coaches are all very appreciative of our fans’ passionate support and feel fortunate to be a part of such a loyal and enthusiastic Penn State family.”
It might take a scoreboard to show who comes out on top after two teams meet, but win or lose, Penn State fans are always No. 1.