...a few days ago, UT unveiled their hyped "Basketball Rewards" system.
We first mentioned the system here, and it appears that some of my main concerns have come to fruition. This isn't going to *hurt* the program, by any means, but I think it's a lost opportunity to engage student participation. That said, after the jump, I'll list my guess as to the main reason behind the prize system and how it will have a positive impact on the basketball program. There's definitely some good things here...
Let's break this down...
The entire "Varsity Rewards" program is outlined here.
The first neat feature is that the system applies to all students and not just the Stampede members. A lot of people complained about not being able to buy the Stampede pass last year, so this caveat should alleviate some of the fairness. If you attend enough games in the Fall, then you'll win a free Stampede membership. This upgrade will give priority seating for conference games to the students who came to the most non-conference match-ups. And really, that's the biggest reward from the entire system. From the link:
If you don't have a Stampede Pass, you still have a chance to earn points and rewards. The 200 Longhorn All-Sports Package holders (LASP) who attend the most Texas Basketball games in the fall will be awarded a FREE Stampede membership AND will be enrolled in the UT Varsity Rewards program for the remainder of the 2008-09 Texas Basketball season.* Not only will you receive a free membership, you'll automatically get the rewards you earned by attending games in the fall!
The biggest downside to the system, in my book, is that it gives disproportionate points for attending women's basketball games. That wouldn't necessarily be a problem, if the rewards were enticing enough. However, as you'll see below, that really isn't the case.
- 1 point for each Men's Basketball conference game
- 2 points for each Men's Basketball non-conference game
- 2 points for each Women's Basketball conference game
- 3 points for each Women's Basketball non-conference game
- Double points for each select game (Example: Pink Zone)
POINTS REWARDS 0 Stampede T-shirt and membership card 5 Texas headband 10 Nike UT Varsity Rewards T-shirt
Entered into drawing for lunch for five at Schlotzsky's (Four drawings; one drawing to be held at the end of each month beginning at the end of December)
15 Pair of Longhorn Crocs
Entered into drawing for an autographed men's or women's basketball
20 Autographed Rick Barnes or Gail Goestenkors poster
Entered into drawing for two tickets to the Men's Basketball or Women's Basketball athletics awards banquet
25 Guided tour of the Denton A. Cooley Pavilion practice facility and locker rooms
Entered into drawing for a $250 book stipend
30 Pair of Nike Texas mesh shorts
Entered into drawing for a Nintendo Wii and Guitar Hero III bundle
35 Priority student seating status for 2009 Texas Football season (includes home, road, OU and bowl games)
I'm very unabashed in telling everyone that I only attend men's basketball games. Under this system, even if I attend every single men's basketball game of the season, then I'll only receive 22 points (14 non-conference points and 8 conference points). My prize will be a Rick Barnes poster, which is nice, but I already have three separate Rick Barnes autographs displayed in my apartment. And I don't think Nike mesh shorts are a good enough prize to get me to leave the law library to watch the Lady Horns. I will admit that the drawings contain some pretty sweet prizes...
To be fair, the system is accomodating thousands of students, and they can't give out PS3's to everyone. But I still think having a pair of shorts as a prize for attending at least 18 games (15 men and 3 women) is pretty weak. The double points for certain games helps, but I doubt anyone is going to actively seek out these games to receive any of the listed prizes--with one exception.
As a graduate student, I could really care less about my seating priority, since I'm sitting pretty. The only enticement is that I would be first priority for bowl game tickets. I imagine that current sophomores and juniors feel the same way. However, I would not be surprised if some current freshmen attempt to get the 35 points. And this is where I see the fit...
I think the main goal of the point system is to try to get students to at least head out to the Erwin Center during the Fall Semester. I know this is a no-brainer, but I want to flesh it out a bit. Attending non-conference games for UT Basketball is one of the best kept secrets on campus, and I can't believe how hard it is to convince people to come out. If the football ticket incentive can get some freshmen to come out to the games, I really think some of them will become die-hards in the O-Zones. If it works--which I doubt--then UT can use the football ticket system incentive to build a solid foundation of basketball fans for the upcoming years.
In summary, I'm a little disappointed by the system. I think the prizes are pretty lazy and the high-end stuff isn't sexy enough to get people to attend additional games. The prize drawings are nice, but they're still just drawings. However, I'm interested to see how many freshmen bite for the football ticket upgrade and if the free Stampede incentive gets some people to come out to the non-conference games.