By Bridget Walsh
This year, the Sport Management Society (SMS) has introduced the DeSales community to a new initiative called “Bulldog Strong.” Between large, school-wide events and specific promotional games, Bulldog Strong is attempting to increase attendance and school spirit at home athletic events throughout the year. It is also an opportunity for students to gain real-world experience in collegiate athletics.
“Bulldog Strong is an initiative put forth to drive attendance at DeSales athletic events,” said SMS President Carly Benjamin. “The Sport Management Society, with cooperation from the Sport Management major, is able to support the athletic department’s efforts to make the game experience great for students. This requires the sport management students to translate what we’re learning in the classroom to a big, multidisciplinary industry-based project.”
During its inaugural year, Bulldog Strong will be sponsoring three major athletic events. They have already completed the opening night “Meet the Bulldog” event in August where they introduced the fall sports athletes and the “Be Well” campaign. Plans for this year’s Midnight Madness for the upcoming basketball season are in motion, and it will be introducing a new “yet-to-be-named” event that will highlight our spring sports.
“The events will provide the student-athletes time in advance of the season to thank their fellow students for their support and for everyone to enjoy games and giveaways,” Benjamin stated.
Bulldog Strong will also be promoting one home game for each varsity athletic team during their respective seasons. At these games, there will be giveaways and other in-game promotions. So far, the Bulldog Strong record for games is 2-0, with wins at volleyball’s match against conference rival Eastern where they gave away lanyards, and women’s soccer’s game against Lebanon Valley College where students received cups. Field hockey’s Bulldog Strong game was played yesterday, and students in attendance received insulated lunch boxes for this game’s promotion.
“Our final announced Bulldog Strong game for the fall semester is men’s soccer on Oct. 20,” Benjamin said. “At this event we will have hot chocolate and donuts for students who attend. We are also running a dizzy shoot contest during halftime.”
“We’ll also have ‘surprise’ games where students in attendance will be entered into a drawing for a limited edition DeSales Bluetooth Speaker at the end of the year,” Benjamin added. “These games will be unannounced and occur throughout the year, so people should go to every game they can.”
The idea for Bulldog Strong came when Benjamin began planning for this year’s Midnight Madness event. She noted that improvements were needed, which is how the concept of in-game incentives for students in order to increase attendance was introduced.
“There needed to be incentives to get students to attend more athletic events and continuous contact between athletics and the student body throughout the year,” Benjamin said. “We brainstormed quite a bit to get to this year’s plan and are excited to see how this could expand.”
In order to promote these Bulldog Strong games and events beyond the normal athletic department advertisements, SMS posts on Twitter and other social media sites using the #BulldogStrong campaign to increase attendance, all so far with positive results.
“We’ve relied heavily on social media and the #BulldogStrong hashtag to raise awareness,” Benjamin commented. “But, we’ll be reevaluating how to best reach students at the end of the semester. The games have been fun so far with great prizes and fun halftime promotions like the Wheel of Giveaways.”
For the remainder of the semester, Bulldog Strong has the huge Midnight Madness event for the winter sports introduction. Upperclassmen should expect to see some changes from previous years, with more promotions and opportunities for all students to get involved.
“Midnight Madness is especially exciting since it is going to be different than any previous year,” Benjamin said. “It will be more of a carnival feel, with games, free food, a DJ, and t-shirts.”
The spring semester is also expected to start strong just like the fall with the spring sports event on Jan. 15, the first day of class. In addition, the Bulldog Strong spring sports events will be announced shortly after to promote attendance early in the semester.
Despite the remaining events for this academic year, Benjamin and the rest of the Sport Management Society are already working on the future direction for this Bulldog Strong initiative.
“I would love to see this program continue throughout the years and we are already thinking of how we can make it better next year,” Benjamin stated. “We’d like to involve as many students as possible and work to make our games unmissable events.”
The next Bulldog Strong event will be the men’s soccer home game on Oct. 20 against Eastern University.