How can YCP sports increase attendance, and is the answer just a matter of more promotion?

By Andrew Reever

YORK College athletics has been a staple for many years with many MAC championships, division titles, and many successful athletes. If you live around the area or near York then you know about York College, but how often do you hear or see its athletics and see its successes? Do you see any advertisements, billboards, signs, or anything that has to do with York College sports? The answer would be no, not really.

This has been an issue for many athletes and those who control our athletics in the fact that they do so much to promote our sports teams. Scott Guise, York College’s director of athletic communications, says he feels that since York College doesn’t have the proper amount of staffing, it is tough.

It’s reflected in the attendance, at least in terms of numbers. those who do come out are very supportive.

“We don’t have someone dedicated to doing athletic marketing, so that is an area we could potentially improve on with additional staffing,” Guise says.

When it comes to promoting outside of campus, Guise says he feels it is all about the loyal fans. “I believe the people who want to come to our games usually do. We have a fantastic group of loyal fans from the local York area who provide us with tremendous support. The community members who do come to our games are well versed in being able to find our schedules and game times.”

Compared to other Division III schools, Guise says he feels there are many similarities to the amount of promotion the athletic programs get. “I think we are pretty much in line with what other local Division III institutions do in terms of promotions. Division III athletic departments are pretty lean operations as a whole,” he says. “There aren’t many Division III schools that have athletic marketing people within their athletic departments. Pretty much all schools have general marketing departments but, often, those efforts do not extend to athletics.”

Guise says that there isn’t much else that can be done when it comes to promoting unless fans are aware of our website and social media page. “Our website is our biggest tool right now for promotion and I think that’s a great resource for people who are interested in Spartan athletics. I would love to enhance our marketing efforts but without enhanced staffing, it’s not very realistic for us to do.”

Michael Mudrick, a Sport Management professor and adviser at York College, said he thinks the school does a good job “of using their social media accounts to make their audiences aware of game times. I don’t think attendance is a matter of a lack of student awareness if they follow York athletics. The key is to come up with strategies to get students to follow on social media. It’s also a challenge because York has a reasonable amount of commuters, which makes staying on campus for later games difficult.”

Julia Pena is one of York College’s elite athletes who have broken several school records. (Photo by David Sinclair)

Mudrick says he also believes that we need to make students passionate about YCP sports. “Another key is the need to ‘inspire’ identification to make students passionate about their support of athletics at the institution. It’s difficult at the Division III level due to the lack of prestige and media exposure. If there were traditions related to athletics that could garner student affinity, then athletics could reap the benefits.”

When it comes to one’s opinion on our Division III sports, who better not to ask than a coach himself?

Men’s basketball coach Matthew Hunter says he feels that YCP does a great job of promoting athletics at the college. “All our schedules are posted online, a calendar with everything and then independent sports pages as well, there are game day social media posts and posts on the large TVs throughout the Grumbacher,” he says. “In the preseason, there are typically schedule posters, season previews, schedule releases, etc. Game day programs also have upcoming games on them.”

With promoting outside of the college, Hunter says York College does a great way of letting fans know of upcoming games. “There is so much technology available now, I think both our campus community and larger York community have the opportunity to find out when and where our teams are competing. We also get good coverage from local papers and their social media accounts.” When it comes to other Division III schools, Hunter feels York College does all the same things that others do when it comes to promoting athletics. What else can YCP do? Hunter says he can’t think of anything.

Athletes at York College are what represent YCP as Spartans every time they walk into a game or match. From winning MAC champions, a conference title or even breaking school records, the athletes at YCP are what make its athletics as good as they are at a Division III school.

Miles Brown, a junior in sports management, says he believes YCP does a great job of promoting but could do more. “Most of the promotions come from social media, especially in today’s time social media is essential to promoting almost anything.”

When it comes to off-campus promoting Brown says he feels that some more could be done. “You only really hear about YCP athletics on campus. Since it’s a small school, off-campus promotion would be beneficial.”

This leads to his final points on why he thinks it would be beneficial. When asked what YCP could do to get more attention, Brown replies, “I feel we can get our athletics more attention simply by marketing it more. That’s how you grow a product and it can’t be for just one sport.” Adding, “It all starts with the student body. They have to get out to more games and support our athletics and from there it can take off into something more.”

York College wound up splitting its doubleheader with Messiah on Sunday. (Photo by David Sinclair)

York College has many successful sports with many student-athletes and coaches that have their opinion on YCP promoting sports. Some think that York College does a good amount of promoting but could do more. Here are some thoughts:

  • Maybe by having billboards with our successful sport on it each new season, or maybe they could use their online social media advertisement that they have and put some sports clips into it as well.
  • How about a digital sign to put on both West and East campuses by the entrances and have them showing the sports events coming up and dates?

Admittedly, all that costs money and probably isn’t in the budget. But it never hurts to think about creative ways to market a program with as many teams as York College supports.

Could these changes make a difference in our sports program? Could there be more hires to focus on promoting the YCP sports teams? The opinions differ but the results have not changed when it comes to how York College promotes its athletics. When you compare with other schools, it’s doing a good job.

The question, of course, is whether that’s enough and what more could be done. Would more promotion necessarily bring more attendance to games? The opinions differ on that answer.

What everyone does agree with is that to bring more attention to our sports teams, you have to leave the bread crumbs for outsiders to follow. “The more people take notice of how fun the games can be and the more we market those experiences, then I believe that will bring more attention,” Brown says.

Andrew Reever is a junior who is majoring in Sport Management.

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