When a sports team loses games, it loses every argument too. Success breeds success, but failure breeds failure and right now, the St. John’s basketball program is stuck in a cycle of failure.
MSG games can often feel like away games, transfers of talented players feel as frequent as recruits, and even current seniors have not seen one exceptional season from the team.
There is no one problem with the program that any one solution can fix. Because of its rich history, though, the potential is there to rebuild a successful system. But it will take many steps over the course of several years.
That is why measures that may patch more than one hole at the same time are so valuable. Offering incentives to draw fans to the games represents one of these measures.
While it may feel like bringing in mercenary fans, there really is no downside and even these fans, perhaps drawn in solely by the thought of free food, may become real Johnnies fanatics.
One problem with St. John’s basketball is the lack of student interest. While the Student Section must be commended for all the enthusiasm they inject, the majority of the student base does not feel the energy of the basketball team. What the majority of the student base is fanatic about is giveaways and free food.
This is not to suggest that “mercenary” fans without enthusiasm are good enough. But, this is a way to break out of the negative cycle St. John’s is stuck in.
If fans are uninterested, the team will suffer, and fans will stay uninterested. If you bring students in through the use of these incentives, though, maybe they will decide to stick around. “Build it and they will come,” or in this case, “bring them and they will stay.”
For instance, after a big, exciting overtime win like the one against Georgetown on Tuesday, perhaps a “fan” that originally came only for the gift cards finds himself walking out filled with the excitement of the game.
The only way to introduce this excitement to the student fan base is to get them out to begin with, and that starts with incentives.
There may be some cost associated with these giveaways, but considering that St. John’s typically does giveaways at games anyway, and many of these are corporate-sponsored, they are actually bringing money in.
Even if there is a cost for incentives though, the team has to spend some money to make some money. Even in the short term, perhaps for every student that comes and drains some of that budget, they also give back by buying a hot dog and a can of soda, or perhaps even a team jersey.
Of course, incentives are just a start. Along with handing out banners and t-shirts, St. John’s needs rallies and more ways of inspiring school spirit in the fan base.
Hopefully, an interested and engaged student fan base will spur the team on to become better. The way to start that process, even if it seems unfavorable in the short term, is through these incentives.