Video: Allen High School in Texas does it right
Do you want to increase the attendance at your games this Fall? Interested in getting more support for your football program? Who doesn't want more people in the stands, eyes on your players, and money spent at the snack bar? I'm sure we can all use more support!
One way to get more support is by using your Friday night football games as community events. All of our communities are very different. I grew up during a great period at Fallbrook High School, north of San Diego, during a great part of the school's history. There is just one high school in town, and when the football team is winning, you're going to see a "Go Warriors" sign in every business window on Main Street. And good luck finding many open shops after 5:30 on a Friday night. They are all in the parking lot at the high school, waiting for kickoff.
But not all of us are lucky enough to be in such an idyllic football environment. Some of us have to work hard to build attendance at our games. And if you want more attendance, you are going to have to either win, or think creatively about how to get more people out. Or better yet, do BOTH!
Here are some ideas on how you can turn your games into community events.1. Teacher Appreciation Night
It is amazing how much your teachers will support the football program when they feel appreciated. Each player picks a teacher to personally invite, and that teacher wears his jersey. At halftime, a few comments about this teacher, written by this player are read. Honor your teachers!2. Military Appreciation Night (both current and veterans)
All current members of the armed forces, as well as veterans, get in free. Have a recognition of them at halftime. Have each player select a veteran to play for. When the player makes a good play, the announcer also recognizes that veteran.
3. Church Appreciation Night (for the religious schools)
If you're a religious school, reach out the churches, synagogues, etc. in your community. Honor them at halftime, give them free tickets.4. Local Business Owners Appreciation Night
Send the kids out in to the community with free tickets for all business owners. Thank them with a free drink and nachos too.5. Sponsor Appreciation Night
Where would we be without the financial support of our sponsors? Have a free BBQ for them before the game, and announce them at halftime. Everyone loves recognition.6. Junior High Appreciation Night
In some areas, you might not be able to do this, as it might be "recruiting." But if legal, get those eighth graders on your sidelines!7. Pop Warner, JAAF Halftime Game
Again, your area might not allow this because of recruiting regulations. But if you're allowed to, feature those kids at halftime. How much fun to play in front of a big crowd, under Friday lights.8. Community Services Appreciation Night
What firefighter or police officer doesn't like coming out to the local Friday Night Lights to get a free BBQ dinner and attendance for their family? This can also be for other local public servants, like city officials.9. Fan Appreciation Night
Give a free ticket to the last game of the year if they have been to every game, with a chance to win prizes, and have reduced snack bar prices for these folks.10. School District Appreciation Night
Invite all of the kids, families, staff and administration from the entire district, and celebrate some of them with recognition after quarters, at halftime and more.
Chris Fore is a veteran Head Football Coach and Athletic Director from Southern California. He consults coaches and programs nationwide through his business Eight Laces Consulting.