What Starts Here Changes Attendance: A Look into the Factors Affecting Student Attendance at Sporting Events at the University of Texas at Austin
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Decreased student attendance at sporting events has become a problem for schools across the country, including for the University of Texas at Austin (UT). There are a variety of factors affecting this issue, such as teams’ win-loss records, but not all factors are controllable by athletic departments. In order to solve the problem and increase attendance, this thesis identifies what factors are the most influential at UT in students’ decisions not to attend games and minimize the effects of the factors that the UT athletic department has control over. This issue is important for the athletic department to focus on because increased student attendance at sporting events provides benefits to the University as a whole and its students such as additional revenue, improved win-loss records of teams, and positive psychological and health changes in students. This thesis uses prior research to develop a list of factors that affect students’ decisions to attend games for the three traditional revenue sports: football, men’s basketball, and baseball. This list of factors was then incorporated into a survey of current UT students that collected background information such as age, gender, level of interest in sports, and whether or not students grew up UT sports fans. The survey also collected the average number of games students attended for each sport each season and a ranking of the top five factors that were the most influential in their decisions not to attend games for each sport. Analyzing the survey results and building on prior research, this thesis suggests that the most influential factors and main areas of recommendation include transportation, the social aspect of sporting events, food and beverages, engaging students at younger ages before they enter college, and targeting women.