Bates' First Year At BC Saw Progress, Innovation
Athletics Must Continue To Fuel The School Spirit They Have Helped Foster During The Past Year
Published: Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 23:10
Hundreds of students traveled to South Carolina this past weekend to support the Boston College football team as they took on Clemson University. The trip south was spearheaded by students, partially in response to the lack of a current or future game scheduled against Notre Dame. Although the removal of the “Holy War” from the BC football schedule until at least 2015 is disappointing, Clemson seems to be an adequate substitute. Warm weather and one of the best tailgating environments in the ACC made for a great atmosphere to watch the Eagles play what was almost a major upset.
The game on Saturday was a heartbreaker for the football team, but the school spirit exhibited by students that traveled to the game is just one instance of an encouraging trend of increased student support for BC student-athletes this semester. A leadership change within the athletics department, better play from the football team, and perhaps most importantly, the introduction of the Gold Pass ticketing system are just a few of the factors contributing to this increased student involvement.
It has been one year since Director of Athletics Brad Bates came to the Heights, and since the day he arrived he has overseen substantial changes. His replacement of Frank Spaziani with Steve Addazio was the first major change, and the implementation of the Gold Pass—which has dramatically boosted student attendance at sporting events—is the most recent.
One new change students will likely begin to notice is a push by Athletics to broadcast more away games on campus. Occasionally away hockey or football games outside of conference play are not scheduled to air on any of the BC cable channels, which makes student engagement more difficult when teams are traveling.
For example, the men’s hockey game in Ann Arbor against Michigan last week was shown exclusively on local Comcast stations. To bypass this, Athletics made the game available to BC students by replacing regular programming on BC channel 11 with coverage of the game. Offering live screenings of away games to students is a strategy that can only serve to boost school spirit and student engagement in BC Athletics.
While the changes made within the athletics department thus far have had a positive effect on the student body overall, they have not been without their problems. The Gold Pass continues to experience issues that primarily revolve around students not receiving reward points for games they have attended. Athletics should continue working to resolve these issues as quickly as possible, especially since high-demand games, like Friday’s men’s hockey game against Wisconsin, are beginning to arrive.
As the Gold Pass program moves forward, Athletics should consider additional points for students who make road trips like the one to Clemson. During the first year of the rewards program, it is understandable that Athletics is attempting to keep the process as simple as possible, but it makes sense to reward these students for their dedication with a better chance of attending high-demand games at home. At the end of the academic year, Athletics should evaluate more creative ways for students to acquire reward points outside of attending home games. Giving out two points for the Homecoming Pep Rally was a good example of this.
Ultimately, however, the school spirit of the student body is not within the direct control of BC Athletics. They can send emails, shoot off fireworks, and sell students a golden ticket that will get them into any game, but it is all for nothing if the students themselves do not actually show up to support the teams. So far, students have been answering the call with zeal, and they should continue to do so for the remainder of their four years here.