Friday, January 27, 2012

Cameron not so Crazies and what it means for Superfans

Duke's legendary basketball fans -- the Cameron Crazies -- made news this week as fewer and fewer of them are attending basketball games. This trend should raise eyebrows at every private school playing big time sports. At BC it should set off alarms. Duke has a high-profile and historically dominant basketball program with a limited-availability student section. Every current student at Duke was well aware of this experience prior to arriving on campus. If they can't get their kids to come to games, what hope does BC have? This is more than just winning and losing. This is about kids today, current trends and the changing sports culture at private schools.

Gregg Doyel thinks kids are bored. I agree that the sameness of the game day environment is a factor. I know when I was a student a decade ago there was always something going on around campus. Going to a BC sporting event was just one option. Now many of those same options and distractions exist plus a million more entertainment choices. Going to the game -- regardless of the outcome -- might not seem that exciting when you can watch in your room while also playing video games or hanging out or studying or whatever.

There's another theory often mentioned on the BC message boards that is probably applicable to Duke: Nerdification. As both schools continue to raise their academic profile (Duke remains above BC) and continue to become even more exclusive in their admissions, the student body is bound to become more serious and academically focused. While plenty mock nerdification, I am not suggesting BC or any school hold back on bringing in the best and brightest. They just need to understand that those students might not care as much about sports. Current students at Duke and BC are accomplishing incredible things and working very hard. It is no wonder they don't have time to go to games. State schools can offset their nerdification with pure numbers. It is easier to fill a student section when you have 30,000 undergrads.

I don't know Duke well enough to suggestion solutions for them. But BC should realize that winning games is not the only way out of our student malaise. I think the answer is shrinking the student sections and creating some demand for the seats. While I love the Superfan tradition, I think BC needs to do more to educate the new students as they arrive on campus. Being a BC fan is about more than just a yellow t-shirt. Indoctrination about our history and the experience are the way to go. If that doesn't work just tell them they can use game attendance to earn extra credit.

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At 5:26 PM, Blogger West-Coaster said...

I like the nerdification theory. I don't think the game in general generates less enthusiasm than ever before -- go take in a game at San Diego State or some such resurgent place and you'll get blown away. But more "sophisticated" students who are pressured to justify insane tuition investments might trend against the 3-4 hour (often mid-week) commitment it takes to attend a game these days. Still, though, bring a winning team in and those stands will fill. I wonder what the student-enthusiasm level is over at Harvard these days?

At 7:09 PM, Blogger mod34b said...

Another theory: Basketball has become a dull sport

Consider the NBA. I used to watch NBA hoops all the time. A Sunday afternoon game watching the Knicks vs the Celtics was a joy - something to look forward to. Just as good as watching an NFL game. Mid weeks games were fun to go to or watch in TV. People talked about the games.
Not so much any more

Now, I only watch the last few rounds of the playoffs if I like the teams playing. Maybe with so many more things to entertain and distract us, hoops just is not as interesting (relatively) as it used to be.

Ditto as to baseball. Major snooze sport.

At 10:31 PM, Blogger mlalley said...

My son is an incoming freshman. My wife and I graduated in 1988. My son has followed BC from Jamaica Plain (birth) to Evanston, IL (high school). I view my son as a test case as to whether or not the current BC scene sucks the fan out of the student.

At 2:08 AM, Blogger rogerdq said...

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At 10:15 AM, Blogger William said...

BC should only have one section behind the basket and give the other side to local middle/elementary school kids.

I doubt we could even fill that for the ACC games.

I'm going on Sunday and expecting nothing.

It's not general apathy throughout the nerds as hockey student season tickets have been sold out all year and have been great the last couple of years.

At 11:06 AM, Blogger Patrick said...

One of the few truly communal experiences at BC is football game day. Basketball never had it, and certainly does not have it now.

This, to me, just shows how inexcusable it is to allow the football program to charge headlong off a cliff.

At 12:11 PM, Blogger Mike said...

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At 12:11 PM, Blogger Mike said...

One thing that may be overlooked is that a decent amount of students are actually there but because the stands are so bare they just snag nice seats close to center court.

(by decent I mean relative to the 20 kids in the two student sections combined)

At 9:33 PM, Blogger Matt said...

The fact is, Conte Forum is a terrible place to watch a basketball game. They should move the games to the Power Gym. It could certainly handle BC's mediocre attendance, except everyone would be closer to the action, with better seats, and it would actually be loud.

At 5:42 PM, Blogger Tim said...

"It's not general apathy throughout the nerds as hockey student season tickets have been sold out all year and have been great the last couple of years."

Bingo. Hockey game Friday night was sold out. Hockey team is also a national title contender, as usual. This is not a coincidence.

At 12:57 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Sell beer. Done.

At 3:00 PM, Blogger ScarletEagle said...

Students shouldn't have to pay $10-$15 per game. When I was running on a tight budget as a college student, it was easy to opt for watching the game on TV with a 6 pack and still having $7 left as opposed to watching another lackluster performance in an empty Conte with no atmosphere whatsoever. Make it so the kids can swipe their IDs and get in for free. Heck, just charge everyone an extra $75 student activity fee in their tuition if admissions revenue is that important. It'll get lost among the other $50k in the bill and won't have to come out of the students' pockets in a time in their lives when their pockets aren't too deep.

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