December 11, 2012 was a sad day for Red Devil sports and everyone with a connection to it. It was a day that more people made the 45-minute trip to watch Green River play than made the 5-to-10-minute trip to watch the Red Devils protect their empty house.

Not only were the Pirate faithful out in force, but they were louder and more enthusiastic than the miniscule Red Devil contingent.

The empty seats in the home section of our sports venues have been empty for a long time. I can still remember vividly as a Grand County High School student from 2000-2004 repeatedly playing football in an empty house.

I have talked to coaches and players alike about what the Red Devils can do to put more butts in the seats, and many of them have said it comes down to winning.

Back when I was in school, the majority of our sports teams underperformed and didn’t give town anything to be excited to show up for. But, on April 13, 2012, my first assignment for the Moab Sun News was to cover the Red Devils’ baseball game against Nucla, where myself, some of the baseball players’ parents and very few others watched Tyler McDougall throw a no-hitter.

Not only did most of town miss out on that pitching gem, but at our soccer games, where our boys and girls each boast elite teams with players who have record-breaking potential, there are even fewer fans.

As a sports writer, I know that high school and college sports revolve around the football and basketball teams and I know that for those sports here in Moab, we’ve witnessed an inconsistent mix of success and tribulation over the years. I can also tell you why.

I know a lot of people who listen to the games on the radio or read about them in the newspaper, only to say disgustedly, “same old Red Devils, losing all the time! I can coach the team better than that clown! We have talented kids, but they’re too lazy; they don’t work hard enough. This kid would be a really good addition to the team, but he doesn’t even want to be on the team.”

The last two points are the principle reasons, considering we are one of the largest schools in 2A, we don’t compete for a state title in every sport, every year.

Even when I was in school, there were talented athletes that should have been on our sports teams, who were just too lazy or not interested in playing, or even watching

Grand County basketball coach Travis Clark said he thinks that diversity plays a large factor in why the Red Devils continuously play in front of small crowds. He hypothesized that Moab is largely made up of “transplants,” who moved here in the past few years, are here for a job, may or may not have kids in school, and even if they did, the kids aren’t part of a rich family sports tradition entrenched in local history.

I agree that our town is a diverse one full of people from different walks of life with different backgrounds, different ethnicities, different values and different priorities – not like a Monticello or Blanding where for the most part, everyone has been there for generations and they live and die with their high school sports, but I don’t think that’s the biggest issue.

Video games, parties, watching the newest movie or reality show, or even hanging out in a parking lot downtown. Those are all things residents of our town would rather do than attend sporting events.

“It’s really rough; I don’t know how to get people into it here,” Red Devil wrestler Dexter Sheets said after the Grand County wrestling meet against rival San Juan. “I tell my friends ‘come to the dual tonight, and they don’t show up… I don’t know. It’s just disappointing.”

Most other small towns shut down on game night – there is nothing else to do; it’s an unspoken duty to go support the team. I hold out hope, however fading, that one day, Moab can be more like the other small towns.

Each high school and college does everything in their power to make sure its home sporting events are well advertized and at a time convenient for maximum attendance.

A large majority of high school games in most every sport, are on a weekday night, after the work day has concluded.

Now what, I ask, could everyone in town have better to do on a weekday night than go to a game?! Come on, people of Moab! Turn off your TV, shut down your computer, postpone your get-together, eat dinner earlier and take an hour and a half or so out of your not-so-busy schedule to support your local high school sports and extra-curricular activities. All the other stuff will still be there when the game is over, but you can’t watch the game later on your DVR.