54640_footballvsbrowncrowdo
Photo: Griff Fitzsimmons

GROUP THINK is The Daily Pennsylvanian’s roundtable section, in which we throw a question at the columnists and see what answers stick. Read your favorite columnist, or read them all.

This week’s question: With Homecoming this weekend, what do you think Penn can do to have better student attendance at Penn sports events? In other words, how can the school make students more excited about Penn Athletics?

Alex Silberzweig | Brutally Honest

Almost all of the Penn Athletics events, as well as the promotions for them, seem to take place on the easternmost side of campus, away from Locust Walk. Just notice how most, if not all, of the groups that advertise their upcoming events are unrelated to Penn athletics. A lot of Penn students don’t even make their way over to Shoemaker Green or Penn Park each day, mostly because their classes or club meetings aren’t situated around there. That’s why I think the first way to make students more excited about Penn athletics is to make them more aware of its events. Bring the excitement over to them, to an extent. Penn Park is absolutely gorgeous, so if students knew when these events were taking place as they walked to class each morning, maybe they’d go. 

For those who know about these events but feel like they have too much work to attend to; or think that it’s too cold to sit outside for a few hours to cheer on the Quakers; or they’re just not that interested in sports, rewards points and swag are key. College students love getting free stuff, whether it be water bottles, T-shirts, laptop stickers or food. It’s worth using at least one of these as an incentive for attending sports games here. Pertaining to food, Penn Athletics could start working with local businesses that students frequent and enjoy to cater discounted meals or free snacks and samples. This would be a win-win for both Penn Athletics and the food companies: Get Penn students to attend games and get the companies to promote their wares. 

It’s worth noting that there is already a “points” system in place that gives rewards points to students for attending games. The Athletics Department could lower the threshold for winning prizes, however small they may be, to motivate students to go, rather than make them feel as if they need to attend so many games before they win anything at all. We’re pretty busy and, believe it or not, temperatures are starting to dip. We only have time to go to a few games each year. Students would be more motivated to attend if they were highly rewarded for the games that they end up attending.

Jessica Li | Road Jess Travelled

School spirit is a tricky, intangible quality. Often, schools either have it or they don’t — and most can agree Penn just isn’t one of those schools that truly has it. As a student with admittedly little to no school spirit and the most rudimentary understanding of football, there isn’t much that could incentivize me to go. However, I’m sure there are general things Penn can do to increase overall attendance.

I remember the first reason I went to a game was to get a free T-shirt. Free merchandise is a big pull for anyone, and marketing this more to students may have an effect. Increasing the amount of free stuff students can get from Penn Rewards could help people try to make it to more games. Additionally, making it easier to get to the game could be effective too. Getting groups together in different college houses to go to the game could get attendance up. In general, there should be more buzz and advertising about the game in general — I often don’t know when these games are, let alone get excited about going to them. Penn can get creative about letting students know when these games are happening, and by doing so, see an increase in faces at the game. 

Carlos Arias Vivas | Convos With Carlos

Penn can increase student attendance at its sports events in many ways. For starters, Penn Athletics could request to add a sports section in the “Penn Mobile” app. This could easily show the dates and times for upcoming games on a student’s phone. 

The DP has its own circulation team that helps pass out print copies of 34th Street, UTB and the Football Preview. To increase student attendance, I feel that there should be Penn Athletics representatives or student athletes that have their own circulation team or tables outside popular spots all over campus. This would help to spread awareness for upcoming Penn matches even further. 

As a freshman, I honestly do not know a lot about the sports events occurring at home or away. Usually, my friends at other Ivies tell me that Penn is competing against their school’s team. This needs to change. I don’t think the emails they send out to all students about sporting events are enough. Maybe we can have 100 duplicates of our mascot, the Quaker, storm through Locust Walk to hype up students for future Homecomings? At the end of the day, all Penn students can show a little more Quaker pride by showing up to upcoming Penn sports events.

Jacquelyn Sussman | The Objectivist

Full disclosure: I’m really not that into the typical definition of “school spirit.” For one reason or the other, I would always find some excuse to skip high school homecoming, and I rarely attended any other sports games unless I had friends on teams. I’m sure — in addition to the many students who did make the effort to show their love for their school — there are a lot of people who, like me, are not used to showing school spirit through sports and don’t really see the point. Aside from Homecoming and supporting my friends, I don’t really plan to attend most sports events. 

And I don’t understand why that is such a bad thing. The underlying assumption for this week’s Group Think question is that Penn “should” do something to increase attendance at sporting events and therefore increase school spirit. Yet, there are so many ways to show your love of Penn: Get involved in extracurriculars, reach out to professors in areas that interest you, build something unique during your time here and (if you later choose to do so) donate. Sports don’t need to always be at the center of campus life and the first thing that comes to mind when people say “school spirit.”

All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.