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Finding a balance: Why do some teams see higher attendance, and how can Tech bring in more fans — for all teams?

July 13, 2017

The biggest crowd to attend a Louisiana Tech home game played by Ashley Santos (30) and the Lady Techsters last season was the 4,111 fans who watched the season opener against LSU on Nov. 11. – Photo by Colin Fontenot

Morgan Bernard
Staff Reporter | mrb056@latech.edu

 

Like many universities, Louisiana Tech has fans that support the Bulldogs and Lady Techsters in several sports such as football, baseball and basketball. But what about the sports that are less supported? Why is it that some sports in general are more popular than others?

 

Donna Thomas, the NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative of Tech and department chair of psychology and behavioral sciences, said the size of sports audiences is influenced greatly by the sports teams.

 

“If you have a real exciting, dynamic team or certain players who are doing really great, then the fans take on that same energy,” she said. “The success of a team as a whole also contributes to the fan base. If a team is having a great season, then more people are going to be willing to attend games.”

 

Thomas said the crowds at Tech sports are always changing but there are some fans that will always be loyal.

 

“For any sport, you always have a base of core fans,” she said. “You go to football, basketball or baseball and you are always going to see people in their 60s or 70s who have been going to the games for 30 years. Students who attend Tech at the same time as a great sports team usually come back as faithful alumni remembering how much fun they had at games.”

 

Thomas said to improve attendance at games she believes there should be adjustments made to advertising Tech’s sports.

 

“We should always be doing as much as we can to engage students,” she said. “To remind them to support their teams and fellow students. I think advertising in some way beyond email or social media would be better for students as well as fans who are not students at Tech.”

 

Malcolm Butler, associate athletics director of communications at Tech, said he also believes marketing is a big factor in bringing in fans.

 

“I think softball is the perfect example of a sport that can really benefit from the execution of a good marketing plan,” he said. “I  have noticed over the past few years the crowds have gotten a little larger at softball games. I still do not think they are what they could or should be based on the enjoyment of the sport and the success of the program.”

 

Butler said he has noticed growth in several sports’ audiences the last few years due to several components.

 

“Over the last five or so years, I think our football and men’s basketball programs have really seen an increase in season attendance at home games,” he said. “It is a combination of success on the field as well as improvements to facilities and the game day atmosphere. I think we have started to see it with baseball the last two years as well, which again, correlates to winning.”

 

Butler said that although many sports are seeing success, students should try being more supportive in a variety of sports events.

 

“I would strongly encourage students and Louisiana Tech fans to support all of our teams,” he said. “I grew up as a Tech fan, and I would attend almost every sporting event I could. I do think some people, again based on popularity, only go to a few of the sporting events. It is my belief that all of our student-athletes work extremely hard and deserve the support of our students and fan base.”

 

Jacob Johns, a sophomore mechanical engineering major, said he believes the popularity of sports is also affected by the school’s location.

 

“Being in the South, football is always going to be a popular sport in college,” Johns said. “I think a lot of people, like me, may have even grown up playing football so they enjoy the sport more than others.”

 

Johns said that as a student he sometimes finds it difficult to attend sports events during the week.

 

“A lot of students are going to put their school work before anything else,” he said. “So, if there is a sports game on a weeknight the crowd, student-wise, would be much smaller compared to a crowd on a Saturday night.”

 

Johns said that although he has not attended many sports events, he sees where some sports are more supported than others.

 

“It is obvious to anyone that baseball and football are the most popular here,” he said. “I think Tech students, or all fans in general, should try going to watch other sports like soccer or softball. You may discover an enjoyment in a new sport, and you will also be supporting fellow students.”

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