UB football is winning: Now it’s time for UB to focus on the fans
UB has a winning football team and students are starting to get excited about games. On Sept. 29, 23,671 fans packed into the stadium for the Army game. Last weekend, 19,506 fans came. That’s 4,494 more people who came to the 2016 Akron game.
At this time in 2016, UB’s record was 2-6. Today it’s 7-1.
The Bills, by contrast are 2-5.
And, we have Anthony Johnson, who’s garnering first-round NFL buzz.
Students and fans are enthusiastic, but it will take more than winning games and star players to pull us into the stadiums.
We need to feel appreciated and wanted, and we, the fans, are part of the games and the environment it creates. Right now, most students feel the games cater to a family-friendly environment, rather than revving up student involvement or making going to the game part of the UB college experience.
Students need to feel invested in the team and the players –– like all of Buffalo feels about the Bills. This isn’t happening when games are geared more toward families.
UB has the potential to grow great teams and bring out stadium-filling crowds of 30,000. But winning isn’t the only goal. It’s also about creating a sense of identity, community and a place where students feel involved. This starts with making its players known to students.
We need to feel invested in the individual players in the process. UB should hype up the team and have the players do meet and greets with the students. Students should know what Anthony Johnson looks like now so that when he does go to the NFL –– as we expect him to –– we can continue to root for him and know where we saw his face before. That’s how you build a brand and loyalty to a college team.
Last Friday’s SA Homecoming Carnival hosted a bonfire and members from UB’s football team took to the stage to hype up the families and students who came out.
This should happen all the time. We want to see quarterback Tyree Jackson in the Union and we want to see his face on posters on the Stampede. This is how we gain a connection with players.
We also want tailgates planned for us –– not for families. As much as several of our editors enjoyed the free Eddie Money show before a 2016 game, this doesn’t appeal to most students. We want to have fun. We need a separate area for students to mingle aside from Stampede Square, which is mainly flooded with families. A place like the field between Ellicott and the Student Union would work, or even the 200 acres of unused land east of the Millersport Highway, but we wouldn’t be picky.
Our pre-games are dull in comparison to massive football schools like Penn State, where the pre-game rituals attract even more students to the games.
Many Bills fans consider the tailgate an integral part of the game. UB needs something more to attract students, but we don’t have to smash through tables.
UB Athletics has a lot going for it. It has a winning football team and will likely have another winning basketball team. It has standout stars and a city known for its fans. It has 30,000-plus fans eager to have fun and feel appreciated. It even has UB Naked Guy.
What it now needs is a push for student engagement.
The editorial board can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.