Score One For the UNC Athletics Department

Much is said about the lack of creativity on the part of the UNC Athletics Department in marketing our various sports programs, particularly the two high profile sports of football and basketball. I am included in the group that has been critical and I have often said there was no excuse in my mind for their ever to be a vacant seat at a football or a basketball game. Now, I understand there are difficulties involved in promoting things. Witness this web site. It's approaching it's third birthday and, even though I have been extremely pleased with its growth, it could be argued legitimately that I could have done a better job.

Successful promotion involves money, creativity, hard work and most important of all, a quality product. It could be argued that the lack of the latter has contributed to less than a desirable outcome in promoting UNC basketball and football for the past several years. A total of 8 wins in basketball two years ago and 6 consecutive home losses last year are a testament to the point I am attempting to make.

Back to the "full house" idea. I have often thought that something could be done with unused tickets even if they have to be given away. I realize that some planning is involved for persons who travel to Chapel Hill so some risks would be involved. In theory, I guess one could say that we expect to sell all unsold tickets on the day of the game, but as a practical matter, we all know that doesn't happen. Remember when we used to have Band Day. I'm sure we eliminated it for financial reasons but I sure would prefer to have them in Kenan than to stare at empty seats. And besides, they added a little excitement to the atmosphere and it may have caused a few band members to want to attend UNC. Oh, that's right. We don't want to do anything that would result in additional North Carolina students to attend "the people's university." Out of state students put more money in the pot and the pot just seems to get bigger and bigger, regardless of how much money is produced.

But I came this time not to bury the Athletics Department, but to praise them. Those of you who have received your season football tickets will know what I'm talking about, but others will not. The subject of my praise is a small booklet enclosure called the "2003 Carolina Football Fan Guide. It is only 2 inches by 3 inches in size, but perfect for a shirt or pants pocket. The front cover has a nice color photograph of a hand holding a UNC football helmet up high ad is printed on slick stock so as to weather many trips to Kenan and the beating it is likely to receive.

When opened, the inside page measures approximately 18 inches by 9 inches. Contained on both the front and back of the page is information one often wishes they had before and during and after the game. And best of all, advertisements are at a minimum.

Some of the items which are included are the seating chart for Kenan, Kenan bus stop locations and start times, a map of the campus, a message from Coach Bunting, a section on tailgating, Tar Heel Town and the Well Walk, ticket information and a section on general information which includes a listing of those things that are prohibited in Kenan Stadium. I may write a full article on this subject later but I would like to mention one item that is prohibited and the reason for the prohibition is not at all clear, at least to me. Did you know that tape recorders are not allowed in Kenan Stadium? Don't ask me why, I'm just quoting from the Fan Guide. I'm sure there is or was a good reason for adopting this rule but the problem with promulgating it with no explanation just invites well intentioned people to want to violate the rule just to show they can do it. How in the world could this rule be enforced with tape recorders as small as they are these days?

I don't live in the Triangle area so I'm not in a position to see and/or hear what other things that might have been done to increase awareness of UNC sports activities, but my friends who do live in the area tell me that marketing of UNC sports is not the University's strongest feature. It must be embarrassing to students and faculty in the business schools to see such ineptness in this area. It's sort of like if N.C. State was allowing poorly designed and constructed buildings to be built on the State campus when they teach architecture and engineering.

I hope I haven't strayed too far from my original point and that was to compliment whoever is responsible for publishing the Fan Guide. It matters not to me whether it is original to UNC or not. What matters is that it GOT DONE. Very few things that we see, hear, smell or touch is truly original except to the one person or group of people who came up with the idea. We don't think we were the first school to have a team walk before a football game, do we? This does not detract from the fact that the Well Walk and Tar Heel Town are two of the best ideas associated with UNC sports we have come up with in recent years.

There was an item on one of the message boards several weeks ago to the effect that someone had anonymously given UNC an organ and that it was going to be installed in Kenan Stadium. I laughed at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I was intrigued by the idea. It could be hooked up to the new sound system and could be played along with the band (Aye Zigga Zoomba). Hey, the Chancellor or his wife might be persuaded to grace the keyboard on occasion. Lords knows, he could use something to ingratiate himself to the UNC following. But wait a minute. We couldn't do something like that. No college has an organ in their football stadium to my knowledge and, besides, it wouldn't be the "Carolina Way." I used to feel that the term "Carolina Way" was a positive one but I must admit that recently I have begun reacting to it in a different way. It now represents to me an old way of thinking and a term often misused by individuals to defend the status quo. Tradition is oftentimes a positive thing but not always. Maybe we ought to re-examine we way we feel about some things like advertising in Kenan and the Smith Center.

Now I've done it. I can just hear some fellow Heels just grinding their teeth when they read my last statement. I don't know if it will help, but I would like to explain that I used to be one who was opposed also. But I've changed my mind to go along with the changing times. It ain't your daddy's and mama's university anymore in so many ways. Not all of the changes are bad.

By the way, I can't confirm the organ donation so it may very well have been a hoax.