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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Spotlight

Loyalty Program Aims to Draw Students to Other Sports

A new program developed by the USC athletic department is rewarding students for going to games.

USC is a school known for its prominent football team and the passion it inspires amongst the school’s student body.

The Trojan Fever Loyalty Program, a new initiative developed by USC’s athletic department, is taking aim at students outside the Coliseum.  The program is hoping to transplant the same passion for football into the stands at USC’s other athletic events. Using a points and prizes system, the program is attempting to pack the seats at the Galen Center, McAllister Field and beyond.

“I’ve done research on similar attendance boosting programs that occur at other schools,” said program developer James Slagle. “We figured that we’d implement it here at USC and see how it goes. So far it’s taken off.”

Andrew Heiderscheit, a USC junior who is the current points leader on the program’s list of most-dedicated students, thinks the program is a solid start to building a greater following for the University’s other sports.

“Once you get people out to these games once, then they’ll see how much fun it is and how awesome these teams are,” Heiderscheit said.

However, the program has caused some dissent amongst some USC students and sports fans. Most complaints have centered around the need for a program as prominent as the Trojan's to incentivize sporting events for the supposedly sports-crazy student body.

“I don’t think you should need an incentive to go and support your team,” said Alejandro Madrid, a USC junior. “There are a lot of really good teams here.”

Senior Kari Van Horn echoed similar sentiments.

“We have one of the better women’s volleyball programs,” Van Horn said. “Our men’s volleyball is amazing, and water polo as well. So I don’t understand why kids don’t go to those games.”

One professor at USC believes the problem is the football team itself, arguing that as long as football is so overly dominant at the school, it will be tough for other athletic programs to rise up, no matter what kind of initiative is aiding them.

“In terms of public relations, football remains the dominant sport at USC,” said professor of sports and communication Daniel Durbin. “Until [the athletic department] can get more students in more seats in other sports, it will remain that way.”

The Trojan Fever Loyalty Program’s leaders still believe that the program can work, and point to the fact that attendance has already slightly increased since the program’s inception.

“I’m getting some really good feedback informally,” Slagle said. “I think we’re on the right track.”

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