Intramurals play a large part in the lives of UTM student-athletes. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the Intramural fanbase.
Sure, UTM has school spirit. The UTM Athletic Council makes sure games are publicized around the school. It also provides incentives for fan-support, such as free pizza, drinks and t-shirts. Indeed, UTMAC is working on getting more advertising space around the campus to promote home games. (One problem is UTMSUs current restriction of a maximum of eight posters per bulletin board).
A likely explanation for the lack of enthusiasm in the Intramural fanbase is the fact that the UTM Intramurals compete against other U of T teams, like UTSC, St. George, Victoria College, Trinity and so on. Its hard to have school spirit when youre facing off members of your own school.
Still, UTM students should take pride in what their fellow campus-mates have to offer to the athletic community. The Eagles have accomplished much in their years competing against campuses with much higher student populations.
Take for instance, the womens division 1 outdoor soccer team. For the past two years, womens div. 1 has taken home the championship trophy even when they face schools with much larger talent pools. But at their last championship game, the UTM womens team faced off against UTSC with only a handful of fans on the sideline that werent family, alumni players or players from UTM mens team, who had a game scheduled directly after.
Students might not know about the game, but UTMAC has posted flyers around the school advertising the mens and womens double-header championship game. They even offered free food and giveaways to entice students to come out and support their teams.
Anna Bedoines, Creative Director of UTMAC, believes the effort is there to improve attendance.
Our council allocates money towards our intramural programs… we provide half-time contests with prizes like Raptors tickets and $50 gift cards, said Bediones. This [lack of fans issue] is one of our top priorities and is something we have been working on all year.
Perhaps the low number of students living on residence contributes to the dismal fan base. The majority of UTM students commute to and from campus. Most commuters, however, live close enough to campus that a quick jaunt to UTM should not be a big deal.
Heck, securing a free courtside seat at a mens div. 1 basketball game is about $85 cheaper (or the equivalent of a bottle of Patron Silver, for all you 19+) than watching the Raptors live in the nosebleeds, unless of course, you win Raptors tickets from UTMAC by coming out to an Intramural game. And with our embarrassing student budgets, anything free is a draw in itself.
I think the main reasons [people dont attend games] are that people are unaware and that there is a lack of interest, said Bediones. I think that we [UTMAC] have to be a little more aggressive and creative in our marketing strategies. I make posters or send people messages on Facebook, but I realize that these messages only reach the people we already know, and we want to reach beyond that.
UTMAC will be hosting their next game on February 10, with the mens division 1 basketball team competing against the UTSC Maroons. More information is available at www.myutmac.ca