Student sections are powerful. They have the opportunity to drive revenue, change culture and influence the outcome of games. After building the Havocs at GCU and serving as the President of the National Collegiate Student Section Association, I have witnessed and experienced the influence of a student section. Unfortunately, many schools are not fully benefiting from their student section so I wanted to provide a few simple tips for schools so they can start taking action.
Whether you are D1 or NAIA, starting from scratch or looking to take your student section to the next level, here are five practical ways to improve your student section.
1. Empower passionate students
It may seem obvious, but student sections are made of students. Without students, there is no student section. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of student leadership. There is at least one passionate student at your school whom if empowered and given the opportunity has the ability to change the culture. Go empower that passionate student!
2. Build a brand
I see a lot of brand-less marketing when it comes to collegiate athletics and student sections. Or I see too many brands and names of the student section, and students are confused and choose not to participate in any. Building a brand allows students to identify with the student section and represent it in a new and fun way. A strong brand allows you to drive sponsorships and revenue. Go build a brand!
3. Create an exciting game day experience
A game in itself is no longer enough. With endless streaming options and comfortable couches, games must be transformed into an event. By creating an exciting event, students will have FOMO (fear of missing out) and the demand for tickets will increase. Simply focusing on making game day the most exciting event on campus will attract students. Make it fun. Make it chaotic. Make it loud. Go make an exciting game day experience!
Many people play a role in the game day experience. I see schools trying to operate out of department silos, causing frustration and disconnect. Getting everyone on the same page to plan and execute enhances the experience. Go speak with everyone involved in the game day experience and work together, because team work makes the dream work. Go collaborate!
5. Unleash the weirdness
It takes one to two students who just don’t care what others think to unleash the inner weirdness of others. Few students have the courage to put themselves out there, but when they do, it is contagious. Every college student has an inner weirdness and energy that is often locked up behind social clout, shyness or insecurity and just needs permission to be unleashed. Creating an environment for your students to unleash their weirdness, pride and passion will spread like wildfire. This goes back to empowering that passionate student who will unlock the passion in others. That student just might be your ticket to taking your student section to the next level. Go unleash the weirdest!
To your success!