Booster clubs and athletic administrators work hand in hand to make high school sports fun and engaging for students and fans. But, it’s hard to get that strong team spirit going when you don’t have people in the stands! For boosters looking for new ideas to help build spirit in the student body and have regular crowds at your events, check out these strategies for increasing high school sports attendance.
Social media is at the top of the list because it’s very easy to keep up-to-date, and is free to the booster club.
We’ve found that Twitter is one of the fastest and easiest ways to send out information to your school community. In our opinion, it’s worth it to create a booster-specific Twitter handle (for example, for a school like “StateChamps High School,” something @SCHSBoosters).
Then, invite parents, fans, and even students to follow your Twitter account, and coordinate with the athletics department on sending out information. If the athletics department sends out a tweet, retweet theirs with an added comment personalized for booster members!
Here’s an example of a custom tweet we recently made to highlight a particular baseball championship in Maryland:
Over the course of two of these custom tweets, we got retweets from the various schools’ Twitter main school account, athletics account, baseball team account, cheerleaders, regional sports account, coaches, and more.
Twitter helps to create buzz about an event, and you can even link to relevant websites (in our case, we sent the community to our website where they could purchase tickets to the event directly).
2. Athletic Website / Facebook
We group the website with Facebook because ideally, the booster club helps to host one easy place online where information about sports and schedules is available.
Really, working with the athletic department to maintain and keep the athletic website updated is the best option. But depending on a particular department, school system, or capabilities of the boosters, it may not be possible for the boosters to have input to the school website.
Which is fine! In that case, we suggest making a dedicated “StateChamps High School Boosters” or “StateChamps HS Athletics” unofficial page where you can host schedule information, post updates, and link to the official athletic website. If people are interested in learning more about your school’s athletic programs, it should be very easy to find that information.
3. Themed Merchandise
We’ve seen that in schools where student sections are well-organized and active, the kids will plan out specific “themes” for games throughout the season. Those themes ask fans to dress up a particular way and show their school spirit in the stands.
As a booster club, you should team up with the students and support their ideas! For bigger games (like a homecoming or big playoff game) where there is time to plan and decide on a theme well in advance, consider creating some game-specific merchandise that kids or other fans can buy. Depending on the budget of your booster club, maybe you offer it for a price that covers costs only, making it cheaper and available to more people.
With more people buying in to the idea of a game’s theme, you’ll see a higher turnout and a louder student section. You can even give away a free shirt, concession item, etc to get people excited.
Plus, you can ask boosters and parents to dress up too and make the game a big, fun event for everyone!
4. Bundling Booster Club Memberships
An easy way to sell tickets to a season’s games is to bundle ticket packages with a booster club membership. For our clients, we offer features like season ticket packages or, better yet, all-sports passes. Just like it sounds, an all-sports pass lets fans get into any game offered by the school. It’s an option that makes a lot of sense for parents with multiple kids playing in multiple sports, or regular fans who would prefer not to have to buy a ticket each time they arrive.
(If your school already offers all-sports passes, and your booster club is responsible for creating them, replacing them, and handling that whole process, read these three reasons that a digital all-sports pass that downloads to phones might be worth looking into.)
When these kinds of ticket packages are bundled into membership, it locks in valuable income for the athletic department. Plus, it helps to influence those buyers to later show up and redeem their purchased tickets.
5. Local Advertising
“Advertising” sounds like it takes a lot of time and resources. In reality, it comes down to how your community shares information and who in the community your booster members know.
If restaurants, coffee shops, and/or athletic stores are willing to support your school, hang a calendar in their windows that will stay there for the duration of the season!
If you know a big game is coming up, send a blurb with game details to local newspapers so they might include it in an upcoming segment. Radio stations might offer an additional mention about the game to the community.
Especially for bigger games (like cross-town rivalries, etc), it really can be worth it to partner with the opposing school’s athletic organizations to promote the game, hand out fliers, etc. If your booster club wants to promote good sportsmanship for the game (and in general), it makes a big difference to be the role models and work with a game’s opponents.
Email continues to be a powerful tool to send out information to the school community. However, it relies heavily on having one critical piece of information: accurate email addresses.
The solution? Being proactive about gathering and updating email addresses. That might mean:
- Having a station at back-to-school meetings
- Sending out a “test” email that asks for people to respond with a confirmation that this is still the best email address for them
- Passing around a clipboard at games for parents who would like updates about athletics
With good email addresses, you can regularly and reliably send out game information, special news, or general newsletters that promote the booster club and grow membership.
These strategies focus more on booster involvement, and by no means are the only ways to increase attendance to events. If you’d like to see our article for athletic directors, read another 7 ways to increase attendance at prep events here. You’ll find that there are some overlapping ideas and best practices!