If you were tracking attendance through the Boston College gold pass system, it would seem as if many of the less popular sports at Boston College have grown in popularity with the student body. However, if you were at these games you would be very confused, as there was no mass of kids in yellow SuperFan shirts cheering on their school. That’s because most of these fans never even entered the gate as they take advantage of the new gold pass app. Recent changes in the ticketing system over the past two years have revolutionized athletic attendance process at Boston College, but are these changes for the better?
Over the past three years, Boston College has used 3 different ticketing systems. Moving from paper ticketing packages sold separately for each sport allowing students to mix and match season ticket packages and waiting in long lines for high demand games, to the gold pass and a swipe based point system, now to this year with the well-advertised and promoted gold pass app working in union with the gold pass. The original paper ticketing idea was very traditional and produced infamous photos and videos of students camping out and waiting in astronomical lines that look great in montages and on the news but are not efficient and fair for getting big game tickets. Senior Matt King gave some thoughts on the Gold Pass package, saying “The new gold pass isn’t a bad price for all three sports combined, but I always bought only football and hockey tickets.” This requirement for students to pay for all three major sports removes some autonomy for students who only want to attend one or two sports but then have to pay for the others.
King also has mixed views on the Gold Pass app as well, “It is really nice to just be able to swipe your card and not have to print out a ticket for each game. However, having the in-app check-in be the only way to gain points is tough. There have been multiple games where I have attended but not remembered to check in.” The point system is good at rewarding consistently loyal fans, but the check-in system has a few big problems. The first glaring issue is what happens if you aren’t the typical Vineyard Vine wearing, iPhone holding, BC student and you don’t have a smart phone. This results in a large annoyance. You then have to search the venue and find the person holding an iPad to check in. This puts students who either chose not to have a smartphone, or maybe can’t afford one, at a massive inconvenience.
One of the selling points of the app is that it rewards fans who arrive early and stay through the end of the game by tracking your location and giving you bonus points. This would fix the issue of last year’s point system where people would swipe into a game, leave and get the same amount of points as someone who stayed whistle to whistle. Assuming the bonus point system did work, how would fans who didn’t have smart phones and had to check in via random dude with an iPad receive the bonus points? Because their location can’t be tracked, would they always gain the points or would they never? Luckily, the app developers and the university don’t have to answer these questions because the allocation of the bonus points has yet to work. The location based feature has actually blown up in the app’s face because for this reason. With no incentive to arrive early or stay until the end of games, many fans take advantage of the natural inaccuracies of GPS by checking into games, gaining the points, and never even getting within 20 yards of the gate. Last year’s swipe for points system at least made you enter the facility and look at the event you were pretending to attend.
For this article I wanted to find someone who truly “mastered” the new Gold Pass app and point system to find out about their experience. I actually found, by looking in-app at the list of students who have the most points (actually one of the better features of the app), a friend of mine was very close to the top of the leaderboard. However, because he didn’t want to be punished for reaping the benefits of a faulty system, he chose to remain anonymous. “I have received points for all but two events this year, once soccer game and one SuperFan zone” he told me when I asked how he had been doing with the app so far. Then I asked about his real attendance, “I have only entered an event 5 times, staying start to finish once.” That one time being the USC football game where everyone in the greater Boston area not only was in the building when the clock hit zero, but not long after on the field.
The app does have upsides in that it is very easy to see your point total, where you stack up against others, and the amazing prizes you can win (one is a Doug Flutie bobble-head so I actually do mean amazing), but after research, it is clear the system could be improved. Having the option of buying specific combinations of sports so you aren’t forced to pay for games you don’t want would be a great improvement. Most of all, though, points need to not be reliant on the app. Not that I don’t want my university to be tracking my location like the Newton bus, but it just isn’t effective for this system. Not to mention what it puts students without smartphones through. Points should be gained by swiping in. The app can still exist as a leaderboard and way to view upcoming games, but not as an attempt to keep fans at games through the finish. That goal should honestly just be done away with, as no app and no number of points is going to keep Boston College students from the mods in the third quarter of a blowout.
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