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1/08/2024 10:24 pm  #41


Re: Theories of Why We Don't Draw Well, and Perhaps a Few Ideas

When I was a student back in the 60's student attendance was a problem and it still is. Living on an island off the coast of MA. I can't get to many games. I  will be at the Davidson game and would love to see a packed and rowdy Smith but have a feeling I won't. We have a good and reasonable priced product and should be able to pack the place every game. I wonder if our star freshmen are going to want to keep playing in front of empty seats

 

1/08/2024 11:39 pm  #42


Re: Theories of Why We Don't Draw Well, and Perhaps a Few Ideas

AT Hiker wrote:

But it's not easy with almost every game available on TV.

 
Who knew?  New marketing strategy: Give ‘em enough Patsos and people will start coming to the games.

 

1/09/2024 2:21 am  #43


Re: Theories of Why We Don't Draw Well, and Perhaps a Few Ideas

As a 50+ year alum, observer, and fan I believe our lack of a tradition of consistent winning is, of course, problem #1.  Students will always be fickle.   They want to be associated with a winner. Period.   They don't even have to be sports fans.  A highly publicized winning team year in and year out will do.  Do we still have a Sports Information Director position at GW ?   If so, what do they do ?  Ditto for an Athletic Programs marketing dept.   The SID used to be the one responsible for making sure the local Media was aware of our team and was provided with regular story lines, articles, game summaries, human interest angles, etc.   I remember when the Jarvis teams were a fixture on NATIONAL television coverage on Selection Day as a regular NCAA Tournament bubble team.   Our foreign players, Jarvis's personal charisma, an occasional Red Auerbach sighting/angle, and, yes, good winning teams had us on the way to some decent levels of recogntion and success across the board.  Pops and the 2006 squad provided a short-lived puff of success, as did the Lonergan NIT team - but all evaporated VERY quickly - no consistency.   For our Athletic Dept. to accept that we get no reasonable sports media coverage as the largest University in the city and the city's second largest employer behind the U.S. Government is embarrassing and ludicrous.  James Madison has now joined the list of "local" schools that are covered in more depth by the Washington DC sports media outlets than GW.   Do students have to pay anything to attend games ?  I recall that every time fraternities and sororities are recognized at half time for some achievement, the student attendance at least doubles - sometimes triples.   Who's marketing directly to the Greeks ?  I don't know the "rules" for membership in George's Army, but I'd lay a bet that the vast majority of the student body thinks it's "lame" to be a member - as most any teen-ager would.   How can we make it "cool" to come to a game or be a member of the Army?   As most all of us have pointed out, it all begins with winning.   I've often thought we could follow the Gonzaga model - sustained winning tradition with a long-term coach and imaginative use of foreign recruits.   It sure ain't easy.

 

1/09/2024 11:05 am  #44


Re: Theories of Why We Don't Draw Well, and Perhaps a Few Ideas

First and foremost, I’m a basketball fan, true to my school starting in Junior High and well after graduating from GW. When I first started attending games, it was easy to understand why games were not well attended. Having to drive across the river to a dimly lit venue at Fort Myer was big deterrent. Even offers of rides to my fellow students were often refused, so the usual crowd, concentrated in the middle of the bleachers, was typically sparse. When the Smith Center was built on campus, I thought things would change, but the interest was still minimal. The response was always “we have other things to do”. In DC, those things included studying, concerts, movies, pub crawling, and watching paint dry. Point is that the vast majority didn’t come to GW because of sports, they come for the entire college experience, which doesn’t necessarily include GW sports.

I haven’t been to a home game since I left the DC area in the early 90’s and for many years could only see the “Colonials” play the scant few times they were nationally televised. Thank goodness for ESPN+ and streaming in general because now I can watch almost all of the games live. From what I can tell from the livestreams is that not much has changed in regards to student attendance. The question I always asked myself is why can’t we get 1,500 students to games on a regular basis? Free entertainment (I’m assuming students still get in free) and just a short walk to the Smith center—what more could one ask for? I sense that CC realizes this and is trying to find a way to build a larger constituency among the students, and that should be his priority.

As for other fans (alumni, basketball junkies, etc.), they will attend games regardless of the obstacles, e.g., transportation to games, parking, the cost of tickets, etc., but finding others, especially those who have no affiliation with GW is challenging to say the least. I never had a great deal of success with students, much less with friends that I tried to indoctrinate.

I know that I’m just reiterating the issues of many, but the reality is that despite all of our efforts, we could never get past the “got better things to do” arguments for those we tried to recruit. Part of the beauty of GW being in DC for students is also a curse as far as the sports programs are concerned.

 

1/09/2024 2:11 pm  #45


Re: Theories of Why We Don't Draw Well, and Perhaps a Few Ideas

First, I think it's fair to give credit where it's due: In recent years, the athletics department has massively improved the ticket buying experience with the new website and ticket management platform, there is alcohol available in the arena (rather than drinking where you can't actually see the game), and there is some real entertainment at halftime most games. Add to that a vastly improved student turnout, and I think that we need to acknowledge that TV, her staff, and Coach Caputo have done a lot of things right.

I'm sure that some investment in marketing dollars would help, as would better scheduling. But I also think that we struggle with our geography and with all the transitions and turnover, we've lost important relationships. 

As far as geography goes, getting suburbanites to drive into the City or Metro in on a weeknight requires dealing with traffic, putting kids to bed late, and searching for parking. It's by no means impossible, but it's a pain, and it's a hard thing to bear when the opponent has a 300+ RPI.

It also means that creating the sorts of experiences and relationships that define fandom is that much harder. Even getting your kids to a summer camp at Smith Center (where they'd get to know CC, his staff, the team, and the university) is a huge pain in the neck when you don't work in or near Foggy Bottom/West End. And, while much of what GW does is sleeker and more sophisticated than it's been in the past, I think a lot of us miss the ways that the Jarvis/Chernak/Perno/McKee/Kvancz types were so present, visible and friendly for so long. With so much turnover, it's hard to feel that level of connection -- like you're not only supporting a team or a brand, but that you're supporting people that you know, like and respect. 

 

1/09/2024 5:26 pm  #46


Re: Theories of Why We Don't Draw Well, and Perhaps a Few Ideas

I wonder if one step is to do some focus groups or surveys of both students and alums/season ticket holders to try to figure out what is actually going on.

For students you could ask
1. do you know GW has a team and there are regular games
2. if not, where do you get your campus news/information (to identify places to do marketing to reach those people)
3. do you go to games, why or why not
4. what would make you go to more games  

For alums and ticket holders, maybe just questions 3 and 4. Or maybe, if you have season tickets, why do you not go? 

I think a lot of us assume students know there is a team, but that might not be the case. I saw this on twitter recently, a student who seems to not even know there is a D1 team. I wonder what gaps there are, where does this student get their campus news and info? What are other ways GW can reach those folks? Maybe they assumed only Duke, UNC, Kentucky etc. have teams? Or GW's is a club team? Whatever it is, we should question our assumptions.

Of course some people aren't going to care even if they know there is a team, but for people to go to games they have to know there is a team first.

 

1/09/2024 5:34 pm  #47


Re: Theories of Why We Don't Draw Well, and Perhaps a Few Ideas

And another student who is a big GW hoops fan tweeted this. How do we reach those people then?

@brooksie1219 
I always swear by my unofficial analysis that more students don’t know we have division 1 basketball than we do. Which is wild because everyone on this campus passes our arena every day!

Last edited by squid (1/09/2024 5:34 pm)

 

1/09/2024 6:04 pm  #48


Re: Theories of Why We Don't Draw Well, and Perhaps a Few Ideas

Truth be told, I'd say the student attendance has been greatly improved under CC.  Not at full capacity but a far cry from 20% of the Army seats plus 8-10 other students.

Since this came up earlier,  I'd say that at its most successful point, GW averaged in the 3,500-4,200 seat range.  Maybe 3-4 games were sellouts annually.  In a typical year, 2,500-3,500 might have been considered the expectation with maybe a single sellout per year.  I remember thinking back that how Shawnta and his crew weren't selling out every game.  LOL.
 

 

1/10/2024 7:42 am  #49


Re: Theories of Why We Don't Draw Well, and Perhaps a Few Ideas

GWAlum2001 wrote:

I think the customer segment that would be the best to focus on is alumni with young kids. I was always going to come to the games since I have been lucky enough to stay in the area after graduation for multiple decades, but I started bringing my kids when they were little along with the rest of my season ticket holder group and our number of tickets have multiplied over the years. Now our kids bring friends and they have a blast and we want to get even more. Just last week I had a friend reach out on how to buy season tickets because they have come to a few games and their kids love it.

I was watching the Davidson game last night and noticed that there were quite a few parents in the stands with a group of 3-4 kids.  I know, I know, there's nothing else to do on a Tuesday night in Davidson, NC.  But I agree that marketing to parents with kids is great, especially like you said: kids will bring their friends/other parents.

Maybe we should go the minor league baseball route and really lean into the fan promotion aspect of attendance.  Have some sort of giveaway/theme for most home games.  Kids get to shoot on the hoops after the game, etc.  Home games are designated 70s-alumni night, 80s-alumni night, etc.  To our credit, I think we tried that a little this year with "Superhero Day."

 

1/10/2024 8:54 am  #50


Re: Theories of Why We Don't Draw Well, and Perhaps a Few Ideas

We need to remember that, in addition to all the above mentioned factors, attendance across all sports is challenged by the convinience of watching matches at home.
Plus, GW has the added challenge of overcoming its history of awful relations with the DC community-at-large: GW is the largest private landholder in the city (and nobody supports The Man, especially when he is upping your rent) and GW still carries the legacy of having needed an order from the local government to desegregate. Think that is "ancient history"? Boston Red Sox baseball, Old Miss football and UK basketball all still have issues with attracting people of colour and their allies to games (not to mention the two-time defending World Cup champions South Africa Springbok rugby team). It may take a few more generations for the damage Marvin did in poisoning community relations (plus Elliot's and SJT's bullying of neighbors) before non-affiliated DC residents start cheering for GW.

Last edited by GW Alum Abroad (1/10/2024 8:55 am)

 

1/10/2024 10:09 am  #51


Re: Theories of Why We Don't Draw Well, and Perhaps a Few Ideas

I looked up average attendance on the university website yesterday and this is what I found:
  2015-2016: 3127
  2016-2017: 2827
  2017-2018: 2648
  2018-2019: 2382
  2019-2020: 2621
  2020-2021: N/A
  2021-2022: 1120
  2022-2023: 1608
The numbers indicate a slight decline in attendance after the team became less competitive, followed by a steep decline after the pandemic. The attendance numbers have not rebounded from the pandemic, but last year was an uptick. Let's see what happens the rest of this year. Once the students return and we are playing conference games against better opponents, I expect the numbers will improve. And if CC sticks around and builds a perennial A10 contender, as I think we all hope, we should be able to get back to around 3000 average attendance. Sellouts have always been rare and I expect that will continue.

 

1/10/2024 10:56 am  #52


Re: Theories of Why We Don't Draw Well, and Perhaps a Few Ideas

DC Native, thanks for that data.  I think, speaking for myself, the biggest reason we don't see DC-area alums (of those who have an interest in the basketball program) is that our games are available online or on television...just about every game now.  This is great for our out-of-town fans, but I do believe it is a serious concern as to why someone would make the choice to not fight traffic, deal with parking, and rush out of their office for weekday games especially.  It is unquestionably easy to just stay at home on the couch (even if it means tolerating the horrible sound quality of the broadcasts). 

As for students, I think it's too early to say if this year's team will or won't match some of our historically good years.  I can say with first-hand knowledge (as I was the staff member who had responsibility over student admission counts during the Jarvis years) that we had years where we were drawing 1200 to 1400 students every league game, and the occasional exception when we overflowed the student sections into the upper endzone seats.  

Is that realistic now?  I'd like to believe it is.  CC is student-focused, has what appears to be an understanding of the importance of the basketball program to school spirit and overall student quality of life, and there seems to be little question that the current product is eminently watchable.  

 

     Thread Starter
 

1/10/2024 11:13 am  #53


Re: Theories of Why We Don't Draw Well, and Perhaps a Few Ideas

Students getting any scholarships, in order to say thank you GW, and in showing school spirit, should support the visible sports teams. Is it asking a lot to spend a few hours supporting the sports teams? 

 

1/10/2024 12:55 pm  #54


Re: Theories of Why We Don't Draw Well, and Perhaps a Few Ideas

When I moved into Calhoun Hall as a freshman 50+ years ago, Smitty and the Metro were breaking ground.  We played in Fort Myer and filled the house against the likes of American, Maryland, and West Virginia.  We were coming off the star power years of Walt Szczerbiak and Bob Tallent.  Interest and attendance in  GW hoops emanated from some marketing, but more from word of mouth on campus!  It gathered momentum either from interacting directly with student athletes in class or meandering over to the famous practice facility (The Tin Tab.)This was where some legendary intramural contests took place and attended by many.  I used to referee these games for extra cash.  I also got to see some of the amazing local talent show up for pick up games.  We all know how rich in talent the DMV was/ is.  There were DeMatha  and professional connections involved which saw Adrian Dantley, Sid Catlett, Austin Carr, and many others play regularly.  It spoke for itself and got people excited.

There was also a deep connection between fraternities, clubs, and all student athletics.  We attended soccer games, crew meets, baseball, softball, rugby (best of all) and hoops.  It grew out of campus interactions and yes, dormitory energy.

Coach Caputo has the right idea by promoting student/player interaction.  He no doubt also has a ton of local and pro connections to tap into.  Between those, and stressing to all GW athletics and fraternities (which he has done) to attend games, the numbers should go up. 

All it took for me to be sold on GW basketball was a block party and a good, likeable team.  As soon as we won a big upset game, attendance took on a life of its own.  We are building momentum and this season should help put the ML debacle further in the past.

 

1/10/2024 1:53 pm  #55


Re: Theories of Why We Don't Draw Well, and Perhaps a Few Ideas

H&R..71 wrote:

When I moved into Calhoun Hall as a freshman 50+ years ago, Smitty and the Metro were breaking ground. We played in Fort Myer and filled the house against the likes of American, Maryland, and West Virginia. We were coming off the star power years of Walt Szczerbiak and Bob Tallent. Interest and attendance in GW hoops emanated from some marketing, but more from word of mouth on campus! It gathered momentum either from interacting directly with student athletes in class or meandering over to the famous practice facility (The Tin Tab.)This was where some legendary intramural contests took place and attended by many. I used to referee these games for extra cash. I also got to see some of the amazing local talent show up for pick up games. We all know how rich in talent the DMV was/ is. There were DeMatha and professional connections involved which saw Adrian Dantley, Sid Catlett, Austin Carr, and many others play regularly. It spoke for itself and got people excited.

There was also a deep connection between fraternities, clubs, and all student athletics. We attended soccer games, crew meets, baseball, softball, rugby (best of all) and hoops. It grew out of campus interactions and yes, dormitory energy.

Coach Caputo has the right idea by promoting student/player interaction. He no doubt also has a ton of local and pro connections to tap into. Between those, and stressing to all GW athletics and fraternities (which he has done) to attend games, the numbers should go up.

All it took for me to be sold on GW basketball was a block party and a good, likeable team. As soon as we won a big upset game, attendance took on a life of its own. We are building momentum and this season should help put the ML debacle further in the past.

Thanks for bringing back great memories of intramural basketball games in the Tin Tab. A little more than 50 years ago for me. One of my favorite things about attending GW. Still remember my team getting wiped out by a Black Students Union team with seats filled with cheering supporters. (I remember a small seating area, not sure how many people fit in the stands). Despite huge defeat, a fun evening. 
 

 

1/10/2024 3:14 pm  #56


Re: Theories of Why We Don't Draw Well, and Perhaps a Few Ideas

GW0509 wrote:

GWAlum2001 wrote:

I think the customer segment that would be the best to focus on is alumni with young kids. I was always going to come to the games since I have been lucky enough to stay in the area after graduation for multiple decades, but I started bringing my kids when they were little along with the rest of my season ticket holder group and our number of tickets have multiplied over the years. Now our kids bring friends and they have a blast and we want to get even more. Just last week I had a friend reach out on how to buy season tickets because they have come to a few games and their kids love it.

I was watching the Davidson game last night and noticed that there were quite a few parents in the stands with a group of 3-4 kids.  I know, I know, there's nothing else to do on a Tuesday night in Davidson, NC.  But I agree that marketing to parents with kids is great, especially like you said: kids will bring their friends/other parents.

Maybe we should go the minor league baseball route and really lean into the fan promotion aspect of attendance.  Have some sort of giveaway/theme for most home games.  Kids get to shoot on the hoops after the game, etc.  Home games are designated 70s-alumni night, 80s-alumni night, etc.  To our credit, I think we tried that a little this year with "Superhero Day."

I like these suggestions.   We need to market more than just the product on the Court as a reason to attend.

 

1/10/2024 3:29 pm  #57


Re: Theories of Why We Don't Draw Well, and Perhaps a Few Ideas

H&R..71 wrote:

When I moved into Calhoun Hall as a freshman 50+ years ago, Smitty and the Metro were breaking ground. We played in Fort Myer and filled the house against the likes of American, Maryland, and West Virginia. We were coming off the star power years of Walt Szczerbiak and Bob Tallent. Interest and attendance in GW hoops emanated from some marketing, but more from word of mouth on campus! It gathered momentum either from interacting directly with student athletes in class or meandering over to the famous practice facility (The Tin Tab.)This was where some legendary intramural contests took place and attended by many. I used to referee these games for extra cash. I also got to see some of the amazing local talent show up for pick up games. We all know how rich in talent the DMV was/ is. There were DeMatha and professional connections involved which saw Adrian Dantley, Sid Catlett, Austin Carr, and many others play regularly. It spoke for itself and got people excited.

There was also a deep connection between fraternities, clubs, and all student athletics. We attended soccer games, crew meets, baseball, softball, rugby (best of all) and hoops. It grew out of campus interactions and yes, dormitory energy.

Coach Caputo has the right idea by promoting student/player interaction. He no doubt also has a ton of local and pro connections to tap into. Between those, and stressing to all GW athletics and fraternities (which he has done) to attend games, the numbers should go up.

All it took for me to be sold on GW basketball was a block party and a good, likeable team. As soon as we won a big upset game, attendance took on a life of its own. We are building momentum and this season should help put the ML debacle further in the past.

I am likewise a Calhoun Hall alum for 3 years (beginning 1969-1970).    I moved myself and my 20 year old hormones to Crawford when it went coed in 1972-1973,   Would love to talk Calhoun Hall and other late 60s early 70s memories with you but I am already way off topic and I am sure anyone younger that 65 would find it boring.  I tried to attend as many games as possible.   Previously, I had always been a fan of the pros  (NBA) but got hooked early on college ball.  Sometimes we would drive to Fort Meyer but mostly took the shuttle bus from the front of the Student Center.    Bunches of drunk/stoned hippie types visiting a military base during the heart of the Viet Nam War facinated me.  The music playing for the layup drills was "Shaft".   Were  you there for the Kermit Washington/Clyde Burwell matchup?   What about the game vs. Syracuse that had we won would have gotten us to the NIT, when the NIT was still relevant.  And of course there was always a home and home vs. Ge**getown.    My recollection was that Fort Myer was always cold.   I think there may have been a hockey rink under the basketball floor.      Of course that makes me an alum also of the Tin Tabanacle, an absolute dump of a facility that passed for a gymnasium.   I likewise remember Adrian Dantley as a frequent visitor to shoot around.  As for the breaking ground on the Metro, it unleashed hoards of rats upon the campus.

Last edited by Long Suffering Fan (1/11/2024 10:10 am)

 

1/10/2024 4:02 pm  #58


Re: Theories of Why We Don't Draw Well, and Perhaps a Few Ideas

BGF wrote:

I think, speaking for myself, the biggest reason we don't see DC-area alums (of those who have an interest in the basketball program) is that our games are available online or on television...just about every game now.  This is great for our out-of-town fans, but I do believe it is a serious concern as to why someone would make the choice to not fight traffic, deal with parking, and rush out of their office for weekday games especially.  It is unquestionably easy to just stay at home on the couch (even if it means tolerating the horrible sound quality of the broadcasts).  

This is a good point. Personally I think it's a lot more fun in person than on TV and prefer that, but I lived in DC so it was easier to get to games. I think this speaks to further need for marketing, promotions, etc. to help draw fans, whether alums or neutrals.

 

1/10/2024 4:37 pm  #59


Re: Theories of Why We Don't Draw Well, and Perhaps a Few Ideas

Crawford 65-66.LSF-so pissed off I missed the co-ed transition.If memory serves(it often doesn’t these
days) we were “allowed “ to have women in our rooms from noon till five -with the door open-on 
Sundays!

 

1/10/2024 9:36 pm  #60


Re: Theories of Why We Don't Draw Well, and Perhaps a Few Ideas

Haha GW73, LSF, GW69.  Could easily reminisce for hours!  When I think back to Quigleys,Burbee Chick, Red Lion, bowling and a pitcher at the “Rat,” it brings a huge smile. Some of the best years ever. 

Out of respect for this forum, and staying on point, I hope the students are passing the message along that we have a quality and very likeable team.  Once student numbers (undergrad, grad, and faculty) improve there should be enough momentum to have an impact. 

Bring on Davidson!!! Go Revs

 

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