GVSU Athletics releases survey to enhance game-time atmosphere

Robbie Triano

In a recent effort to enhance game-time operations and atmosphere, Grand Valley State Athletics sent out a survey to every current GVSU students’ email address on Tuesday, March 13.

The survey doesn’t focus on the overall student engagement at athletic events, but rather aims to acquire more information about the overall lifestyle of GVSU students. According to Doug Lipinski, GVSU deputy director of athletics and external relations, the survey was created to better understand the entire GVSU student body and how to cater to students’ needs at events.

“As we prepare for next year and the 2018 football season, we want to engage our students on their lifestyle,” Lipinski said. “We don’t want to scold our students for not going to games. We just want to know about how the average student lives their lives.”

Questions range from how students use transportation, involvement of clubs/organizations around campus, food options, the most efficient way to be notified about athletic events, which GVSU sports students prefer to watch and more.

Less than 24 hours after being sent out, the survey had accumulated around 1,200 respondents.  

A few of the questions revolve around the idea of possibly implementing beer and alcohol sales during football games at Lubbers Stadium. After many major Division I programs started selling beer at football games—including the University of Texas, University of Minnesota and 32 other schools—the idea of joining the bandwagon is one that Athletics is seriously considering. GVSU also has a liquor license.  

“Now that there’s a large number of schools doing it and that the tailgating scene continues to grow, we want to collect as much data as possible to see if our students would be open to the idea,” Lipinski said. “Research shows that if there is a controlled environment and licensed vendors distributing alcohol at sporting events, there’s a trend of less binge drinking prior to the event.”

After the survey closes, the athletic department will take the data recorded and share the results with student focus groups, football season ticket holders and the donors of the GVSU Irwin Club, the primary funding arm of the athletic department. The plan is that this will be the first of many surveys sent to the GVSU student body by the athletic department.

“We wanted this survey to be pretty general, basic and easy for students to use and obtain the most information about our student body,” Lipinski said. “Once we begin to notice certain trends in the data, we’ll be asking more in-depth questions about those topics.”

Lipinski—and the rest of GVSU Athletics—has been attempting to solve a downward trend of student school spirit and overall participation when it comes to events and games. During the football team’s final home game against Tiffin, a message appeared on the Lubbers Stadium scoreboard—the largest in all of Division II—that read, “Don’t be a fair weather fan. Stay and cheer until the game is over!”

This school year alone, the department has released “Laker Nation,” a mobile application to inform users about event dates and times, as well as a benefit program that rewards students who attend events with coupons and free prizes to local restaurants and businesses.

“We have a good idea of what our hurdles are as a department,” Lipinski said. “It all starts with knowing our student body and how they live at Grand Valley.”