Paly should provide attendance-based sports rewards

Though Palo Alto High School brims with excitement and fanaticism during Spirit Week in October, the rest of the year suffers from a disappointing lack of enthusiasm in school-related activities and involvement at other events, especially at sporting events, excluding football games. In order to increase general excitement throughout the school year at Paly, a simple solution to this epidemic and lack of enthusiasm would be the institution of a Vikings Rewards plan.

Many colleges in the United States suffer from a similar problem as does Paly — less popular sports such as volleyball or water polo often have next to no fans in attendance at games, compared to the tens — even hundreds — of thousands of fans that show up on Saturdays to watch football games. However, one college has been able to combat this issue through the implementation of a rewards program that instills a sense of unity, support and camaraderie in its student body — the University of Mississippi’s (Ole Miss) Rebel Rewards.

Rebel Rewards is a program in which students create an account tied to their email address and are able to earn prizes by attending sporting events. On the main website of Rebel Rewards, students can access a schedule with all of the dates for upcoming sporting events in addition to other relevant information. Next to each event is a certain number of points that students are awarded for attending. For example, football games give 10 points to those fans in attendance who are signed up for Rebel Rewards.

While fictional points may not seem to be effective enough as a motivator, the leaderboard on the homepage awards students who are at the top bragging rights to being the biggest Rebels fans. However, there is also a tangible prize associated with points. After earning 50 points, a student will receive an Ole Miss Rebel Rewards shirt. After earning 1400 points, students will get $120 off football season tickets. There are several different tiers of points all with different prizes, that finally culminate in the grand prize. The biggest prize available, for 2000 points, is an all expenses paid trip to an away football game with VIP access and the opportunity to meet the team.

The Rebel Rewards program has been wildly effective at growing crowds at at all Ole Miss sporting events, and has raised school spirit astronomically. This system would be quite simple to implement at Paly, and would easily yield similarly positive results.

The Viking Rewards program would be simple to set up, as Paly’s website could be easily outfitted with a page where students could create accounts tied to their student identification card numbers. Students would be encouraged to sign up by the Associated Student Body (ASB), which has been trying desperately to increase attendance at sporting events for years. Similar to how students can currently get ASB stickers on their student identification cards that grant free or discounted access to ASB events, a sticker could be placed on the cards to identify Viking Rewards members.

While the Paly merchandise that is sold at football games and in the Student Activities Office is quite appealing, high prices deter many from investing in clothing such as sweatshirts and sweatpants. Instead, students would be much more willing to grab a friend and head to a girls lacrosse game, which, if the Vikings Rewards program were to be implemented, would earn them points that could be used to buy a sweatshirt.

Much like how Rebel Rewards functions on a small and a large scale, Viking Rewards could start with providing products such as lanyards and bumper stickers up to more valuable items — perhaps sweatshirts and sweatpants. Viking Rewards-specific shirts could also be designed and printed, bolstering revenue and the presence of the program on campus. Just as Ole Miss has awards that are experienced-based and not simply relating to merchandise, Paly could provide similar prizes. For example, a lunch with Athletic Director Kathi Bowers or with football head coach Jake Halas could be made available to students who have garnered sufficient amounts of points.

Ole Miss also provides credits dubbed “Rebel Bucks,” which can be used to purchase food on campus. Since food at football games can prove quite the expense when coupled with ticket prices, Paly could provide Snack Shack credits as another reward. This could further encourage students to attend games, as this prize would be specific to the games.

Instituting a program such as Viking Rewards could drastically cut down on low attendance at Paly sporting events, providing a compelling incentive for students to participate in sports events. Over the years, ASB has attempted to concrete student sections for games and clubs even have been created to achieve this goal. Though these attempts have proved fruitful in some respects, Vikings Rewards proves an extremely robust and efficient program.