Students work to improve spirit, attendance at sporting events

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Attendance was low for the UT women’s softball game Wednesday evening. Leah Vann, economic sophomore and secretary for Students for Texas Athletics, noted that the ball fields are hard to access because they are across the highway.
Photo Credit: Graeme Hamilton | Daily Texan Staff

In recent years, some students have complained about a perceived decline in school spirit for UT sports.

“The motto is ‘Come early. Be loud. Stay late,’” said Leah Vann, economics sophomore and secretary for Students for Texas Athletics (STA). “Where is the spirit?”

Vann said when she came to UT as a freshman in fall 2013, the fan turnout for football games disappointed her.

“I finally get to come to a college football game, and I am the only one shouting at the ref,” Vann said.

A potential cause of the issue could be related to promotion, according to Teri Pierce, associate athletics director for engagement services.

“On a campus this big, it’s hard to get the word out,” Pierce said.

Mechanical engineering senior Austin Hill said it’s hard to get motivated to attend sports such as golf and rowing when the venues are so far away for students. He said he feels cross-promoting the more popular sports with the less popular sports would increase student turnout.

“I think being good generates hype,” Hill said. “Everything seems to rise and fall with the hype of our football team.”

Vann said STA has plans to try and motivate students to come out for more UT sports games.

“We are going to create the biggest tailgate in the country,” Vann said. “It would be so convenient if we could just tailgate on campus.”

Vann said STA plans to provide a student-tailgating area on campus. STA also plans to establish a bus route from West Campus to the baseball field for students to take to UFCU Disch-Falk Field.

“It’s hard to walk to. It’s across [I-35]. It’s just a pain,” Vann said.

The first route is supposed to be available for the weekend of the three-game baseball series against Texas Tech starting May 1, Vann said.

STA is working to make student IDs the only necessity to get into games, if students have purchased the Big Ticket, the all-sport ticket package for students and staff, Vann said.

“We are working with a consultant who is working with our fan experience,” Pierce said.  “If there is a ticketed event, we’re going to try and make it a great experience for the fans.”