Fan engagement technology is evolving at a revolutionary speed. Apps, companies and tools are engaging fans in new and innovative ways and are developing constantly. Yet why are schools seeing attendance and engagement decrease at sporting events?
Leadership. Student leadership is the single most important component of a new-age robust student section. All the technology in the world cannot replace leadership. Why is leadership so vital?
Your student section culture. No amount of technology can reverse or create your desired student section culture. Culture is made of people and since the student section market revolves around students, and students are people, it takes students to change your student section culture. Why isn't everyone investing in student leadership?
It's hard. Few want to take the time and energy to identify, onboard and develop top 1% leaders for their student section, but those who do it are rewarded. Look at some of the top robust student sections around the country and what do they all have in common? Strong student leadership. And guess what? Students will come to games with or without technology. Conversely, I see student sections build momentum and then suddenly die or lose momentum. Why? No sustainable leadership.
Many schools tell me they feel there is a disconnect between athletics and students. The promotions or marketing channels used are ineffective and falling on deaf ears. Students just don't seem to be interested or care about sports. Why? Weak student leadership. Student section leaders are a branch of the marketing department and the bridge to connect athletics to students. Empowering student leaders makes the life of the administrator easier and gives them more time to focus on revenue generating activities.
Now hear me. Technology is not bad. It can be an extremely effective tool to connect fans to teams, teams to the community, administrators to data, but it won't change a student section culture. It just won't.
Is it a lost cause? Absolutely not. Each year, colleges have a fresh market of students coming in expecting to be told what to do, what to think, what to believe, what to value. If student section leaders don't capitalize on this and lead freshman, they will observe and experience the current culture, become apathetic and fall victim to the past.
Whether you are Division 1 or NAIA, starting from scratch or looking to take your student section to the next level, go empower student leaders. If you want your culture to change and to see a full, excited, spirited student section, go onboard and develop leaders.
Every school has the ONE. The ONE student who has the IT factor. The student who people are drawn to. The student who loves sports. The student who loves their school. The student who gets it. Go find the ONE and let them change the culture.
STUDENTS - if you're interested in working in sports, business, marketing, events, communications, sales, accounting, being a top 1% student section leader will provide you incredibly relevant skills and opportunities in the marketplace.
To your success!