Where have you gone?
I'm talking to you, Fresno-area sports fans.
You've disappeared since the Las Vegas Bowl. Gone off somewhere. Vanished before my eyes.
Last I saw you, Dec. 21 at Sam Boyd Stadium, you were 15,000 strong -- at least. You were wearing red, tailgating and rooting for Fresno State to beat USC.
The Bulldogs didn't hold up their end, but you did. You turned out en masse in full support of your favorite team.
So where are you now? How are you getting your sports fix?
You're certainly not attending Fresno State basketball games -- men's or women's.
Oh, sure. The university announces some robust attendance figures for the Save Mart Center. But the actual butts-in-seats count is significantly lower, and no one is being fooled.
That means thousands of you are supporting Bulldogs basketball with your checkbooks but not your lungs. Which is your prerogative, except those empty rows of seats make a vast arena feel lifeless. Some nights it's like a mausoleum.
No doubt some of you are enjoying the NFL playoffs, trading Fresno State jerseys for the 49ers or Chargers. You've had plenty to cheer about, too. But those teams are pro franchises based in different regions of the state. They're not yours like the Bulldogs are.
Same goes for the NBA. Most of you pull for the Lakers because of proximity and their long history of success. Warriors? Clippers? Kings? There are a few of you, but probably just as many who like the Heat.
Some of you are attending high school, junior college or even Fresno Pacific basketball games. Nothing wrong with that. You can see quality hoops in small gyms throughout the area. But those teams have limited audiences. If you don't attend that school, didn't graduate from there or don't have family in uniform, you probably aren't interested.
Spring will be here soon, and Fresno has the reputation as a big baseball town.
And yet ...
Fresno State baseball regularly led the nation in attendance during the 1990s, which is practically ancient history. Interest has been in steady decline. Sure there was an uptick following the unlikely College World Series crown in 2008. It lasted one year.
Your attention span fades quickly.
Let's switch to the Grizzlies. My impression is you're happy to have minor-league baseball in town. Many of you enjoy going to games at Chukchansi Park, drinking beer and munching hot dogs on warm summer nights.
But do you really care if the Grizzlies win or lose? Be honest.
You certainly care if the Giants win -- or the Dodgers. You care about the A's, Angels, Padres and other teams, to a lesser extent. But if you root for one of these teams, chances are you root against another. As baseball fans, you're a divided group.
It'll be the same way this summer during the World Cup. Just as many of you will be cheering for Mexico as will be cheering for United States. If not more.
This little exercise isn't a meant as a criticism. Fresno has great sports fans, and passionate ones.
Drive around and you'll see lots of people wearing sports apparel. When big games are on, all the sports-themed restaurants and bars are packed no matter the sport.
It's just that in 2014, we're at the point where there's only one team -- Bulldogs football -- that brings together all Fresno-area sports fans. Or at least most of you. Enough that it feels like there's mass interest. Like there's a buzz.
This troubles me a little because my job (and I'm still sort of new at it) is to get you to read my columns.
If you agree, great. If you don't, even better. Just as long as you read them and get some sort of reaction. Besides numbness or being bored to tears.
That means the less of you that care about a particular subject, the tougher my job gets.
During football season, I could be certain anything I wrote about Derek Carr, Davante Adams or Tim DeRuyter would be consumed by a wide audience. I knew that because you responded by email, voicemail and on Twitter. Because you sold out Bulldog Stadium three times and purchased $1.5 million worth of merchandise through The Bulldog Shop alone.
You were united behind the team. But now that roller-coaster ride is over, and you've gone your separate ways.
It didn't used to be this way, of course. When I moved to town and started working at The Bee, Jerry Tarkanian's Bulldogs were a bigger story than Pat Hill's. Not always for the best reasons, of course, but you fans didn't seem to care.
You packed Selland Arena, and for a couple years even the Save Mart Center was a hopping, happening place. Now you drive right up and park without passing a single traffic attendant.
I know where you are, Fresno-area sports fans. You're home waiting for spring football.
The columnist can be reached at (559) 441-6218, firstname.lastname@example.org or @MarekTheBee on Twitter.