Though tens of thousands of fans decked in cardinal and gold flock to every home football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, USC’s 20 other NCAA varsity sports, many of which are highly ranked, don’t enjoy the same support from most fans.
The Trojan Fever Loyalty Program, which launched this fall in an effort to increase attendance at USC sporting events, could be the change these sports and their athletes are looking for.
The initiative, developed by James Slagle, a graduate intern for the USC Athletic Marketing Department, allows students to earn points and win prizes each time they attend USC football, men’s and women’s basketball, women’s volleyball, women’s soccer and select men’s water polo home games. Prizes for the most loyal Trojan fans have included airline vouchers, Trojan apparel and tickets for last week’s USC-California football game held in San Francisco at AT&T Park.
Despite the latest push, many students remain unaware of the program’s existence.
Other than the video board ads at home football games, emails and word-of-mouth among certain student groups such as the Interfraternity Council, the program, which officially launched Sept. 3 when USC football hosted Minnesota, hasn’t reached most USC students.
“I hope it grows a lot more so we don’t have to market it as much and everyone wants to participate in it,” said IFC Council Vice President of Athletics Sam Megowen, who has been assisting Slagle in marketing the program to Greeks. “Getting it across campus is the hardest part.”
Despite the challenges, Slagle hopes the program can help make students more aware of the number of highly competitive teams USC boasts.
“Our school has the third most [NCAA] championships of all time and we’re in the midst of a great athletic stretch,” Slagle said. “Currently several of our teams have multiple national championship streaks and many more are gearing up for great seasons ahead. We hope this program makes our home sporting events more exciting and gives our Trojans athletic teams a greater home-field advantage.”
There are 20 events before the end of the semester, which concludes with a Dec. 13 women’s basketball game against UC Santa Barbara.
When students attend games, they either swipe their student ID cards or sign in to earn points for their attendance. There is no official procedure to sign up for the program. Rather, all students who attend a sporting event that gives them points are automatically enrolled in the program and have a chance to appear on a leaderboard on the Trojan Fever website that lists the top 50 point-earners.
The current point leader is Andrew Heiderscheit, a junior majoring in computer engineering and computer science, and uses the alias “BearFighter” on the leaderboard. Heiderscheit has amassed 330 points this semester. He thinks the incentive program is a good way to get students into the stands.
“That [the Trojan Fever Loyalty Program] exists is the first step to getting these sports exposed to the student body,” Heiderscheit said. “I definitely see that there are a lot more students at games. It used to be that there are 10 students and parents at women’s soccer, and now there is a block of students there. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when basketball rolls around, too.”
Heiderscheit hopes improved attendance can help provide USC athletic teams with more of a home-field advantage in the coming years.
“There are two main reasons I go to all these events,” he said. “The first is that I love all sports and they are exciting and entertaining to watch. The second is that I love to support the Trojan Family and anything I can do to help out is great.”
Trojan Fever also plans to launch similar programs geared specifically toward USC’s Greek population and campus residence halls.
Students can find more information on the Trojan Fever Loyalty Program at USCTrojans.com/trojanfever or by emailing email@example.com.