The Collegian
Monday, July 13, 2020

Athletics marketing department uses student feedback in effort to boost attendance

Redshirt junior guard Blake Francis takes a shot past McNeese State defense in a game on Friday, November 22, 2019.
Redshirt junior guard Blake Francis takes a shot past McNeese State defense in a game on Friday, November 22, 2019.

“DOUBLE THE HOOPS, DOUBLE THE FUN THIS SUNDAY!” 

The capitalized declaration was the subject line of the most recent mass email sent to University of Richmond students on Dec. 5 from UR’s athletics marketing department. The email advertised the men’s basketball game against the University of South Alabama on Sunday, Dec. 8, and the women’s basketball game against Furman University afterward.  

The email also promoted the “relaxation station” that would be made available to students tired from studying for final exams. All of this is meant to attract more students to attend games, although it is difficult to discern the tangible effect the emails have on getting students out to athletic events, said Ashley Yencho, assistant athletic director for marketing. Other factors such as the team’s current record, the quality of the opposing team or the time of the game affect student attendance as well.

Sophomore Miros Martinez has not attended any athletic events this year, but said she had appreciated receiving the emails nonetheless. 

“I like the information in the emails,” Martinez said. “I just haven’t wanted to actually go to the games.”

UR does not charge students to attend athletic events, but having more students at games creates a better environment for both fans and athletes and leads to higher attendance rates from fans who are not current students, Yencho said. 

The emails have focused primarily on football and men’s basketball because those teams have sponsorships that the athletics marketing department is required to advertise. Still, Yencho expressed a desire to represent other sports in the emails as well.  

“My constant message to our team is, ‘How can we consistently include our other sports into these [emails]?’” Yencho said. “It’s something that we’re working towards.”

Yencho, who had played basketball for American University, said she had empathy for student-athletes who felt their teams were overshadowed by others.

“I know what it’s like to feel like you’re not getting exposure,” Yencho said. “But we’ve had a lot of student-athletes start coming in and are willing to talk to us.”

Student feedback has been a significant part of the creative process behind the emails. Last spring semester, the emails heavily featured memes, but after negative responses from students, the department shifted to the more informational style that it currently employs, Yencho said. 

Yencho encouraged students to continue approaching the department with feedback on its marketing.

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Yencho said that students could gain more from attending games beyond generating revenue for UR. She highlighted the sense of camaraderie people could feel being a part of a cheering crowd of fellow students.

“When you think about your experience at UR, you don’t want to just think about how academically rigorous it was,” Yencho said.

High-energy crowds can make a difference for those on the field as well, said senior Maurice Jackson, a defensive end on the UR football team.

“It really makes the biggest difference,” Jackson said. “Going out on the field and hearing the crowd, having the feeling that everyone’s there to watch you play -- it’s something that I think a lot of us take for granted sometimes, but when it’s not there you can really tell. It kind of depletes the energy you have going into the game. Having a big crowd there at every game -- not just Homecoming or Senior Night -- is something that’s really appreciated.”

Contact sports writer Noah Jacobs at noah.jacobs@richmond.edu

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