Over the next couple months, I will be writing blogs sharing helpful tips and secrets on how to rebuild your student section.
They will be back, and they will be needed.
Sure, I’ll be diving into leadership structure, marketing, branding, game day experience, revenue, retention etc...
But it's all meaningless without a clear understanding of what a student section is and why a student section matters.
This might seem elementary, but I see many schools mistake what a student section is vs. what it isn't.
Many view the student section as just the physical section in the stadium or arena...
Others view it as a ‘spirit club’ where the leaders want to support every group, club and organization on campus and make t-shirts yadda yadda…
But then when there’s actually a football, volleyball, basketball game or (insert sport), those leaders are nowhere to be found…
OR they are just operating as ‘marketing interns’ sitting behind a table and handing out t-shirts…
OR even worse, those leaders are sitting down not making a peep scared to put themselves out there… (more on this next week)
Then the physical student 'section' ends up empty and quiet.
Recipe for an apathetic student section.
So let’s clear up the definition pulled straight from Wikipedia:
A student section or student cheering section is a group of student fans that supports its school's athletic teams at sporting events; they are known for being one of the most visible and vocal sections of a sports crowd as well as for their occasionally raucous behavior.
Okay, so now that we have the proper definition out of the way.
Why do they matter?
There’s probably 100 benefits I could list, but I’ll keep it simple with three.
1. Community & Pride
The student section gives students something to be proud of and feel a part of.
A student section is a unique community where the ONLY thing you have to have in common to belong is being a student at the school… that’s it.
2. 4 R’s - Recruiting, Retention, Revenue, Recognition.
Recruiting - Both students & athletes… If you’ve seen a great student section, it’s self explanatory. People want to be part of it.
Retention - Helps students and athletes feel more connected, therefore more likely to stay at the school.
Revenue - Not only can a student section bring direct revenue (sometimes over six-figures), there are secondary revenue streams that come from enrollment, sponsorships and media deals.
Recognition - Ever heard of the GCU Havocs? Hmm… How long would it have taken you to be familiar with Grand Canyon University if you hadn’t heard of them.
(As a reminder, I was the first Havocs Prez and saw the transformation from 100-2,500 students in three years)
How much is a W/L worth? Mark Few says the Kennel Club at Gonzaga is worth a few points every game.
Student sections DO make an impact on the game, otherwise home field/court advantage wouldn’t be a thing…
But most importantly, the student section will impact your students, athletes and fans for years to come offering them some of the best memories of their lives.
That’s it for this blog, next week I’m talking all about STUDENT LEADERSHIP!
If you need help taking your student section to the next level, you can schedule a free strategy session to see if and how we can help.
-- Brandon Kaiser