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Students are batting about .500 when it comes to attending sports games this semester, according to a recent Herald poll.

At the time of the poll, just over 50 percent of undergraduates said they had attended a sporting event as a spectator this semester, with most of those students saying they had watched only one or two games.

"I think I just went to one game this year," said Hannah Levy '13, one of several students interviewed by The Herald who have attended at least one sporting event this semester. "I guess there's just always something else that's more interesting going on — it's not like that's where the action is."

Director of Athletics Michael Goldberger said attendance at games is not much different from peer institutions and that student interest in the teams varies from sport to sport.

"Just based on the quick attendance sheet, from the NCAA, it looked like we had more attendance than any of the other teams at the first-round NCAA men's soccer tournament," he said. "But there are other areas where we haven't been very good and haven't seen a lot of support — football, for example."

Goldberger said this low attendance at football games was partly due to the fact that the stadium's location is inconvenient for students — an opinion that was echoed by several football players interviewed by The Herald.

Another reason for low attendance at sporting events might be the inconvenient timing of some of the games, said David Walls '11, co-captain of the men's soccer team.

"On a Friday or Saturday night, students are more willing to watch a sporting event than if it's Tuesday and they have a midterm the next day," he said.

Several athletes interviewed by The Herald said they have recently seen an increase in attendance at games, an improvement they attribute in part to BrowNation, a student-led marketing group whose mission is to boost school spirit.

Moses Riner '09 GS started BrowNation in 2007 after transferring from Duke. "I enjoyed the enthusiasm around athletics at Duke, and when I came to Brown, the same enthusiasm was not here," he said.

To increase attendance at games, BrowNation rewards students for coming to sporting events, Riner said. For a small fee, students can become members of an incentives program and receive prizes for attending a certain number of BrowNation-sponsored games.

The group has also tried to boost attendance by hosting the MegaBowl, a competition in which varsity athletic teams compete against each another to attend the most games.

According to Riner, BrowNation, which boasts between 700 and 800 members, has made significant progress in improving school spirit among students.

"The culture around athletics and the enthusiasm is definitely changing," he said.
Goldberger called BrowNation "the driving force" behind the effort to get more students to attend home games.

"We had more fans this year, which is pretty exciting," said Leslie Springmeyer '12, a member of the women's field hockey team. "When you have more fans on the field, it's definitely more of a motivation for the players."

Peter Sullivan '11, a captain of the men's basketball team, has also seen an increase in his team's fan base, but said the crowd at games is still composed mostly of players' friends and families. "When I look in the stands and look at all the students, I know most of them," he said. "But there are also people I know who are basketball fans."

Some students interviewed by The Herald said they would attend more sporting events if they knew when the games were scheduled.

"I haven't really heard when any events were happening — it never was really advertised," said Josh Wallace '13.

"Kids make Facebook event invitations to raise awareness that there even is a game," Sullivan said. "People will say, ‘Oh, I would have come, but I didn't even realize there was a game.'"

Several athletes said relatively low attendance at games is just a reflection of the culture of Brown.

"I feel like maybe the majority of the student body here … they're just interested in other things," said James Develin '10, co-captain of the football team.

"Athletics at Brown has a good tradition, but I think that's only realized by the athletes who are actually recruited to come here," Walls said. "I think a lot of the non-athlete students fail to recognize that tradition, and because of that, students aren't likely to come out to events and try new experiences."

The Herald poll was conducted from Nov. 2 through Nov. 4 and has a 3.6 percent margin of error with 95 percent confidence. A total of 687 Brown undergraduates completed the poll, which The Herald administered as a written questionnaire to students in the Mail Room at J. Walter Wilson during the day and in the Sciences Library at night.


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