If Silia DeFilippis ’11 and the Yale College Council get their way, having school spirit could soon pay off.
As part of an ongoing effort to fill the stands when the Bulldogs play, DeFilippis is assembling a committee that will be called the Athletic Rewards Committee and will offer prizes to students who attend sporting events.
DeFilippis, a varsity athlete herself and an associate member of the YCC, said a point system called the Athletic Rewards Program will be modeled after incentive systems in place at Brown University and the University of Pennsylvania. Eventually, DeFilippis said she wants students to be able to swipe their ID cards at athletic competitions to receive points automatically for attending the match, but this is likely far down the line. When the program is first introduced, volunteers will be stationed at games to keep track of the students that are in attendance, DeFilippis said.
DeFilippis said she developed the idea while she was brainstorming ways to boost attendance at her team’s tennis matches.
“There’s a lot of pride for residential colleges,” DeFilippis said. “But when it comes to pride for Yale more generally, sometimes it can be lacking.”
Though nothing is official, DeFilippis said she hopes that her committee will begin experimenting with the program as early as this winter.
The YCC’s effort comes on the heels of attempts on the part of the Yale Athletic Department to spread awareness of Yale athletic events. Marketing intern Robert Coppola said a lack of information, not of interest, is the primary reason students do not attend athletic events. In fact, Coppola said he does not think Yale has problems attracting students to games.
“We’re very happy with the students here at Yale,” Coppola said. “They’re great supporters.”
Still, Coppola said he recognizes that at Yale in particular there is a large contingent of students with interests that prevent them from actively supporting sports teams.
Cat Dailey ’10, who serves as outside hitter for Yale’s Ivy League-champion volleyball team, said she supports the YCC’s proposed point system.
“We don’t necessarily care if people attend for points or if they enjoy volleyball,” Dailey said. “It really makes a difference to have a loud crowd there. Our team really feeds off that.”
Dailey, who previously played volleyball for a University of California at Berkeley team that advanced to the semi-finals of the NCAA tournament, said past success also plays a key role in boosting attendance.
“[But] it’s our job to make them want to come back,” Dailey added.
In years past, attendance at Yale’s most prominent sporting events has typically varied but remained above that of Ivy League rivals Harvard and Princeton, according to the NCAA. Yale regularly outsells Princeton and Harvard in ice hockey and football, but not in basketball. Yet average attendance at Yale football games fell by 10,000 in 2008 from the past three years’ rates, including years in which The Game was held at Yale.
Regardless of crowd size, the Yale Bowl’s stands often seem empty because of its 60,000-seat capacity, defensive back and football captain Paul Rice ’10 said. But Rice said he does appreciate the energy a large crowd adds.
“A packed stadium just makes the environment a lot more exciting,” Rice said.
Applications for spots on DeFilippis’ committee will be accepted through Friday.