Photo courtesy of Martin Jarmond / Twitter

Martin Jarmond Talks Attendance, Student Experience at PACE Gathering

On Tuesday night, Athletic Director Martin Jarmond held a town hall-style meeting, called PACE, or Passion Attendance Collaboration Experience. The goal of PACE was to boost attendance and improve the student experience at athletic events.

Jarmond began by emphasizing the importance of student attendance in successful athletic programs. While everyone wants a successful program, Jarmond believes that this success begins with the energy that comes from the student section. Students have the power to motivate or deflate their team, and no team can truly succeed without their fans.

Many students in attendance at the open forum originally came for the free pizza or apparel, but still proved to be quite effective in introducing new ideas to get students excited about Boston College athletics.

While Jarmond addressed many different topics, one of the first proposed ideas that he took a liking to was pushing for an earlier start for tailgating at football games. The basis for this idea was that oftentimes, students don’t start leaving their tailgates and packing alumni stadium until deep into the second quarter, so by allowing an earlier start to tailgating, students are more likely to be in attendance at kickoff. Additionally, traffic issues before and after the game could be significantly alleviated by allowing an earlier start to tailgates. Jarmond put both of these policies in place before this year's football game against Clemson, the most highly anticipated game of BC’s 2018 football season. While Jarmond said that he was in favor of the idea and would like to push for it to be put into effect permanently, he could not make any guarantees.

The meeting also put a great emphasis on BC’s use of social media in promoting their big games. While Jarmond did say that he is interested in increasing social media presence, there is still the issue of having the funds to staff BC’s social media team. One student proposed the idea of having more student-athlete social media takeovers, in which members of a team take control of a school's Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook page leading up to key games. While star athletes like Ky Bowman and AJ Dillon have done this in the past, students wanted to see less widely-known athletes take over in order to build a stronger connection between the sports teams and the student body.

Many students believed that an increased emotional connection between these two groups could potentially lead to an increase in attendance. Related to this idea, Olivia Vaughn of the women’s soccer team proposed that teams have open team events where students can get to know the athletes representing their school. While Jarmond said this may be unlikely because schools are only allowed to require their athletes to spend a certain number of hours on specific tasks, Vaughn responded that student-athletes would gladly participate.

Promotional giveaways were another major topic of discussion. Most students agreed that apparel giveaways were an effective motivator in increasing attendance, but were ineffective in keeping students in the arena until the end of a game. The issue, said one student, is that people will come into Conte Forum, take their t-shirt, and then leave immediately after. Jarmond said that he would consider having t-shirt giveaways after halftime instead or having a “minute of mayhem” in which a variety of promotional items are thrown into the stands during a late-game timeout to maintain the crowd’s energy level.

Another proposed way of promoting student enthusiasm for BC athletics was creating a club devoted to the on-campus sporting events. The club, potentially called the Rowdy Eagles, would aim to bring together students who want to attend sporting events but choose not to because their friends don't want to go. Additionally, with the Plex being removed and replaced with green space next year, the club would have a perfect rallying spot outside of Alumni Stadium and Conte Forum before games. While Superfan shirts were intended to create this same unifying feeling, many students are strongly against the design of the shirt, so the athletic department will consider changing the shirts to maroon in the future.

The final major point of discussion in the forum was the Gold Pass. Some said that the check-ins were pointless because people would simply check-in to games and leave, while others said that it seemed pointless to check in at the games because the rewards were not an effective motivating factor. While Jarmond tried to gather ideas for effective Gold Pass rewards, few were proposed. Jarmond concluded by asking any students who were able to think of effective motivating ideas outside of PACE to email him at [email protected].

While Jarmond described this meeting as the most important of the PACE assemblies, he assured his audience that it would not be the last. There will be more of these meetings in the future, and Jarmond hopes that students will continue to participate in order to bring a more enjoyable student experience to all who choose to attend BC athletic events.

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Jake McNeill