The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Op-ed: How do we fill the stands?

An op-ed was written last year questioning the hypocrisy of having to pay for Lafayette/Lehigh, and the lack of sports camaraderie compared to a decades ago. With another Rivalry game coming up on Saturday and after the improvement of the football team, it’s a great time to expand on some of the issues addressed in that piece.

One year later, the college continues to tirelessly attempt to bring back fans to Fisher Stadium. One year later, there are still no improvements.

Charlie Berman ’24, the first op-ed author, found that 2022 non-Lehigh football games averaged at around 16 percent capacity. I would argue that number was even lower this season. This is a Lafayette problem, but also the same at the majority of Patriot League games.

The purpose of writing this is not to convince students to show more school spirit. That’s corny. Those attempts were already made by the Athletic Office and were relatively futile. Cheerleaders would give out tickets to students strolling into Farinon, while countless football posts got published on Instagram. Nothing happened.

The solution to this is incentivizing people to go to the games, not expecting the team’s performance to be the deciding factor. Lafayette should look at the successful “sellout” programs as a model.

Standing outside a building and convincing students to go to games won’t work. It’s usually impossible to convince students to change their minds because people naturally follow the norm. If the norm is not attending games, students will continue to attend their typical social activities. If the norm is attending games, a domino effect will occur. So, if the norm on Saturdays is going to sporting events, the increase in camaraderie will be exponential. 

Look at football and basketball games from the early 2010s, where every highlight is available on the GoLeopards YouTube. The difference in atmosphere is noticeable. 

If the college wants to make a change with the athletic camaraderie, it has to implement unique solutions that other small schools don’t offer. Multiple food trucks should be available that offer meal swipes for students. Vendors could offer Lafayette gear, and non-students could take advantage of discounted local products. The college should also repeatedly go into town to offer ticket discounts for Easton residents.

The most radical of solutions: a point system. Say if Lafayette students attend two regular season games, they get 25 pard dollars. If they attend all the football games, they could get 100 pard dollars. The college somewhat attempted this – the first 500 attendees at the Bucknell game got free Leopard bobbleheads. But that didn’t work.

There ultimately has to be a bold solution that caters to student and community interests. The most basic solution is free (good) food. But the college can get more creative than that. 

And, losing money to incentivize the community will eventually pay dividends. If $10,000 is lost from Pard Dollar giveaways, it could be gained back from sponsorships, advertisements and eventually increased ticket sales if more people go to games. 

The football team is one win away from winning the Patriot League title, perhaps cementing itself as a potential FCS powerhouse in the future regardless of Saturday’s result. With that, and especially with the upcoming bicentennial, this is the perfect time for the college to find creative ways to bring the community together for Lafayette Division I events.

Andreas Pelekis ’26 freelances with Lafayette Athletics Video Production and communicates with the Lafayette Sports Network. 

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About the Contributor
Andreas Pelekis, Assistant News Editor
Tennis addict.

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  • F

    Francis MustaroNov 21, 2023 at 10:40 am

    Would like to know your opinion and anyone else’s thoughts on WIFI reception at Fisher. Would a stronger , more reliable signal encourage attendance? Personal devices among attendees is a given, and many wish to communicate with others, post videos, capture moments from other games or whatever. Less fun if one can’t do that.