Last week I attempted to bring to light the attendance problem that plagues the Boston University basketball program by providing you with numbers and statistics.
While the statistics can speak for themselves, what really is important is trying to understand the causes of poor attendance and possible solutions to this problem.
BU’s urban setting is one of the many features that I love about this school; however, I am confident that the school’s location hurts attendance at BU athletic competitions, not solely basketball.
Students at BU need not be confined to Commonwealth Avenue when looking for something to do. The heart of Boston and even Cambridge is in BU’s backyard and it only makes sense for students to take advantage of this.
Boston is also home to many of the most successful sports teams in the country. It is hard for BU athletic teams to compete for fans when the Bruins, Red Sox, Celtics and Patriots dominate the city and the headlines.
Unless you are a die-hard BU sports fan, who would you rather watch the Celtics or the Terriers?
The attendances of the other schools that compete in the America East Conference are worth a look. Binghamton University leads the conference with an average of 3,478 people per game, followed by the University of Vermont (2,579) and the University at Albany (2,163).
Why is Binghamton’s attendance four times that of BU? The answer certainly is not the team’s record, seeing as the Bearcats went 8-23 last season, but environment.
Unlike Boston University, where students embrace the city as their home, Binghamton students tend to stay on campus and as a result attend in greater frequency on-campus events, such as basketball.
The school’s location obviously cannot be changed. However, there is one issue that can be improved upon which should help to increase the attendance at BU sporting events.
The big issue is marketing.
I do not wish to knock anyone in the marketing department because I acknowledge how difficult a task it is to get people to attend basketball games, but I believe there is plenty of room for improvement.
A better job needs to be done to get students excited for basketball season. Last year’s team did its job of making the NCAA Tournament and playing very well on national television, but that was over seven months ago.
There must be an event that gets students pumped for the upcoming basketball season — there must be a Midnight or Late Night Madness.
Midnight Madness is essentially a huge pep rally to get the fans excited for the upcoming season with performances by the pep band, cheerleaders, and dance team. In addition, there are usually dunk and 3-point shooting contests from different members of the team and some fans are given some sort of an interactive role. In my opinion, it is one of college basketball’s greatest traditions.
There is only one problem – BU is not having a Midnight or Late Night Madness.
With basketball season starting on Friday, the date for such an event has passed.
Last season, instead of a Late Night Madness, BU Athletics advertised and put on an intra-squad game called the Scarlet and White Scrimmage. While I had fun at the scrimmage, it did not have the same effect as the Late Night Madness events I attended the prior two years.
After last year’s successful season, I would have thought having a Late Night Madness would be an easy decision, not only to promote the men’s team, but the women’s as well. This year instead of a Late Night Madness, the men’s team had an open practice at the Fitness and Recreation Center yesterday.
I must admit that I disagree with whoever’s decision it was to put on an open practice. The lack of advertising for this event and its location in FitRec greatly affected the attendance. Besides die-hard members of the Dog Pound, members of the dance team and cheerleaders, anyone else who watched the scrimmage just happened to be at FitRec.
Last week at the George Sherman Union, there was a flash dunk contest for students judged by members of both basketball teams. Again while I applaud the creativity of the event, I question its goal. A flash event, by nature, lacks public organization. In order to get the maximum number of students excited for basketball, the event must be big and publicized. Unfortunately, neither the open practice at FitRec nor the dunk contest in the GSU were events of such sort.
BU students owe it to the hard work of the basketball teams to attend their games. However, without the proper event to get the average BU student excited for the season, I can understand why attendance is low.
I agree, there should have been some event to celebrate and feed off the success of last season. Personally I would prefer a scrimmage over dunk/3pt contest, something like the NBA charity games with little defense and lots of alley-oops.
And I don’t think students should feel obliged to attend games because the team works hard but I hope more people are open to attend because they might actually have a good time.
I expect this team to play a fun, exciting, and (hopefully) winning brand of basketball which might be a better marketing tool than any promotion could be.