Quaker attendance rates rise
April 9, 2010
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Guilford’s athletic department has kept track of attendance rates for each athletic team dating back to their first varsity seasons.”Attendance figures are estimated figures, which is common at smaller schools,” Sports Information Director and Assistant Director of Athletics Dave Walters said.
Attendance rates have fluctuated between an average of 40 fans per game to 1,000 depending on the sport and the season, since 2006.
The man in charge of tracking attendance numbers and making necessary adjustments to increase these numbers is Bryan Jones, the coordinator of sports marketing.
“I’ve been working on getting the word out (about sporting events) and I think the athletes have been as well,” Jones said. “I have contemplated doing pep rallies in the quad but then there’s the question of how many students would show up to the game after (the rally).”
Getting the word out about games and matches is just one factor that attracts fans.
The data (above and on page 11) indicates that average attendance rates differ greatly among the colleges in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC). Over the past few years, many schools have seen an increase in fan support, which Walters believes could be attributed to the new facilities that have been built at many schools.
At Guilford, just in the past two years, there have been a lot of improvements to home courts and fields.
The new turf put into the Armfield Athletic Center in 2009 gave men’s and women’s soccer the opportunity to play in the stadium. From 2008 to 2009, the men’s soccer team had more than twice as many fans at each game from previous seasons and the women had an increase of 24 fans per game from when they played at Haworth Field.
According to Jones, both soccer teams along with the women’s basketball and women’s lacrosse teams are in the middle of the pack for conference attendance standings.
Unfortunately, the conference doesn’t regularly show attendance records for baseball or softball.
“Last time I checked, baseball was third and I don’t have anything for softball,” Jones said.
This makes it hard to tell if the upgraded sound system and improvements to the in-ground bleachers on the men’s baseball field have made a difference. However, Jones said that there has been a significant rise in softball and baseball attendance in the past year.
The increased attendance could also be attributed to the fact that more recruits have been North Carolina natives.
“Now we have a lot more local athletes, so more parents are able to come watch their kids play, which adds to attendance numbers,” Jones said.
Thirty out of the 46 players on the baseball team are from North Carolina; men’s basketball has 17 out of 22, and softball has only 10 of 21 players from out of state.
However, the men’s basketball team has other motivating factors for their third place attendance in the conference.
“Quite honestly, it’s the wins and losses,” men’s soccer coach Jeff Bateson said. “If a team wins, more people are going to want to watch them; if they don’t win as much, (fans) don’t want to go watch.”
During the past four years, the men’s basketball team has made NCAA headlines and had steady fan support. During the 2009-10 season, average attendance rates doubled from 535 to 1,108 per game.
But not all of Guiford’s teams were so fortunate, as football’s attendance suffered due to bad weather and possibly the team’s record.
The Quakers are last for football attendance. During the 2009 season, fan support dropped to an average of 883 per game as opposed to the 2008 season when they had 1,680 fans. However, football still sees the second largest crowd at Guilford.
The men’s lacrosse team struggles in terms of attendance, according to Jones.
“People don’t really understand the sport so they don’t come out to watch,” senior and ex-lacrosse player Kyle Boylan said. “Plus, they really aren’t that good.”
“I’m not going to say if you don’t have fans you can’t perform, but it’s good to have fans there, (it means) you’re playing for someone,” senior and ex-football player Martin ‘Country’ Brown said. “It’s especially discouraging if you (play at home) and (the other team’s) fans are louder or they have more fans. I’m not going to say it impacts the game but it’s moral support: that’s why there’s a home field advantage.