Read Part 1: Tulsa Game Brings Attendance Back To The Forefront
Beyond enticing the casual fan to buy tickets, UH needs to improve the in-game experience. Our current set-up leaves a lot to be desired. UH football has been turned into an outdoor NBA game.
Fans are treated to a non-stop barrage of ads, gimmicks, polka bands, contrived chants, and contests where women stuff themselves with hot dogs for a full minute. It’s too much.
If you go to an NBA game, there’s a focus on “in-game content” in an attempt to add to the experience. The goal is to keep you engaged and entertained every second you’re in the arena. But at a college football game, the needs of the fan are different. Football fans know that the “in-game content” is the game itself.
In the mid-1990’s, Robert Boudwin created the mascot Clutch for the Rockets. He’s an innovator in that space – he helped revolutionize the in-game experience in the NBA. Before being hired as UH’s assistant AD for marketing & event presentation, Boudwin gave a TEDx talk and explained how he visualized a Rockets game:
I have no issue with Boudwin personally – I’ve never met him. But I am concerned about the direction our game experience is going. I don’t like the idea of bringing the NBA experience to UH football – especially after enduring it in the early part of this season.
What we saw against Tulsa was wall to wall over-stimulation. The crowd had no time to breathe and be ready to get up for the next play. At some point, constant engagement is a hindrance.
In addition to being just too much, there’s no time for the Spirit of Houston to get fans ready coming back from a timeout. A live school band will always be better than pumped-in music followed by a pest control ad.
Marketing departments will tell you this is how to keep students interested – constant engagement. Loud, aggressive over-promotion and the feeling that something is happening even when it’s not. But that’s not how football works: you can’t be excited for the big moments when everything is pushed as a big moment.
What UH is trying hasn’t kept the students engaged. Here’s the student section at the start of the 4th quarter against Tulsa:
Beyond the students, the TDECU crowd was as dead as I’ve seen since Tulane in 2014.
We’ve tried something new with the in-game experience but clearly, there’s a disconnect in understanding the college dynamic. An NBA crowd and a college football crowd have very different needs and it’s the responsibility of the in-game presenters to understand that.
Oh, and we completely abandoned scoreboard replays in the 2nd half. Bring them back!
Extended Tulsa Coverage
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