Intramural sports can be your best tool for increasing student participation in campus recreation programming – assuming you’re marketing your intramural sports well.
While it’s true word of mouth about a fun sport tends to draw a crowd, especially in this age of instant communication through social media, there’s still no guarantee students will come to you if they aren’t invited.
But once you dive into your marketing and tell the student body what you have to offer, you’ll see your participation numbers start to rise. “It’s just kind of human nature that people want to be part of something,” said Andrew Case, the manager of sales and marketing, department of athletics, at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Students will be drawn to intramural sports for a variety of reasons, including personal preferences, friends playing certain sports and awards for winning certain leagues. All you have to do is inform them of what you have going on. And the best way to do that is through social media.
“It has played a huge part in getting the word out about what we have coming up per quarter,” explained Case. “We have the use of Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and we are taking a better look at our YouTube page these days to get the quality videos up there — testimonials and captains’ videos, things like that will really help drive participation with intramural sports.”
College students are just like everyday consumers, minus the fulltime jobs. They want to feel a connection with the activities they are investing their time in. It’s up to your marketing team to concoct ways to engage students right where their interests lie.
Try identifying the intramural sports that are already the most popular on your campus, and begin by heavily marketing those sports to stir up interest. It’s key to remember each sport will have varying levels of popularity on different campuses.
“I have noticed flag football is very popular, indoor soccer is very popular and then basketball [is popular],” said Case, when speaking specifically about Drexel.
No matter what the most popular intramural sports are on your campus, there are ways to make your intramural programming appealing. Try making highlight videos from the games or getting quotes from star players. Anything to make intramural sports more personal for participants can be huge.
“We have an end-of-the-year banquet for recreational athletics here, and we give out awards for participation, winning championships, and the students really enjoy the banquet,” said Case. “We get a great turnout every year, and people want to win those awards that we give, whether it’s for sportsmanship or for winning.”
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to engaging students. A classic tried-and-true method is to put a trophy at the top of the hill. Or design a championship T-shirt.
But the most important mission of intramural sports should always be this: to help students foster relationships with fellow students and develop a healthy lifestyle through competition.
“We make sure we have Drexel’s values and [its] mission in mind,” said Case. “Because we really aim to provide student development — that’s most important. And we do that through participation. If we don’t have participation, then our students aren’t developing.”