“School Spirit” Follow-up

Folks – on Tuesday Tex wrote a very good article regarding, in essence, what can Pitt do to increase “School Spirit‘ in its students, alumni, Pittsburghers, etc. I have drafted a letter to the Pitt athletics department outlining some of the good ideas readers have had.

What I need from you is some more concrete, perhaps step-by-step, ways on doing what the subject implies – boosting school spirit and all that comes with it. Below is what I have now drafted as an addendum to the letter. Note that I kept any references to Penn State out of it because I want Pitt to concentrate on issues and answers they can put into effect for Pitt itself:

  • For alumni and fans; has the university ever recognized a tailgate crew or fan? Have them put a spotlight on these groups and individuals each week. Name a formal “fan of the game” at the home games. Get the cheerleaders to give him a gift bag of Pitt gear,  put them on the Jumbotron and ask then a few questions on why they think “Pitt is It!”. It can be hilarious and a focus effort on being a great fan.
  • Have fans share their stories. Like What made you a Pitt fan? What were your most memorable games? What schools are your rivals? Who are your favorite all time players? What was your best road trip to a game? Which fan came in the farthest for this game. Etc.  (Editor’s Note: I suggest you do a few of these on the big scoreboard during commercial breaks – might have to use a seven second delay or better yet record the bits as the fans cross the parking lot or at tailgates.
  • Also, many have talked about those football chalkboard discussions. Even some real and genuine meet and greets where your question gets an honest answer. Enough with the pre-canned questions and generic sanitized answers.
  • Engage with fans via email and social media on a scheduled basis. Drop by the POV tailgate one day and ask questions. (Editor’s Note: I suggest that you create something, a newsletter or website where the fans can register their email address and get all of the news you all put out on a regular basis.
  • Not sure what pre-gameday or same gameday traditions there really are. But reevaluate your songs, chants, and activities to get more people energized and involved. More than just Neil Diamond please.
  • Have the students and athletes interact more.  Might be tough to do with football due to separate housing and cafeteria. Get athletes and students involved in group community projects. It’s far easier to root and attend when you know someone on the team. 
  • A great point about the student/athletes co-mingling and/or living with the rest of the students; when you live near them, they become fellow students to you and you see firsthand how much they have on their plates. Makes you want to go and support them on the field of play.
  • If these are already being done then get the word out better.
  • How about the idea of a rewards card to entice the students to attend games. Once they earn enough points, they can spend it. Once students attend an Olympic sport match they could become hooked and this then could rise attendance across the board..
  • In order to get seats in the student section for basketball at the University of Virginia students must attend the other school athletic teams’ events (excluding football games). The athletic department then gives points for that and one needs to hit a certain point level to get into the student section.
  • At each home game have a drawing for a random student, who has remained until the end, to have a semester’s tuition waived. Not only might this attract more students but have them stay past halftime. Might have to have late busses from Heinz Field to the campus for this.

That is what I have so far. It’s a lot but I say let’s give solid feedback to Pitt from some of the university’s most ardent fans. Let’s hear what else I can add.