Discounting student tickets would strengthen spirit

The Southerner

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Phillip Suitts

No school spirit.

That has been the rap on Grady students for as long as I can remember, dating back to when my brother started attending this school more than 10 years ago.

Grady students certainly aren’t the most spirited, but I have a simple solution to increase student attendance at sporting events: lower the ticket prices.

Student and teachers are charged the same amount as people from outside the Grady community: $5. And people wonder why so few Grady students and teachers attend games.

Have APS officials ever heard of something called a “student discount?”

For football games in DeKalb County, student tickets cost $2 less than regular-admission tickets. Similarly in Cobb County, students get a $2 break on tickets for all sports except football.  At Mill Creek High School in Gwinnett County, students are charged between $1 and $2 less than adults for baseball, soccer, lacrosse and track.

Admittedly, it’s impossible to know if there is more school spirit at suburban high schools just because the student ticket prices are lower.

In a July 2009 APS athletic audit, Wagner and Associates recommended an increase in the number of sporting events for which APS charges an entrance fee, including JV games and three-on-three summer basketball tournaments.

I agree that APS can better maximize gate receipt profits. The place where I part paths with Wagner and Associates is the method through which the profits can best be maximized. Lower ticket prices for students will not only increase student attendance and school spirit but will also generate more profit.

APS can make as much money from gate receipts at $3 per student ticket if the discount draws 25 students per game as it does by charging $5 per student ticket and getting only 15 students to attend.

And if you don’t believe that only 15 students would be willing to buy a $5 ticket, then I invite you to come to a Grady spring sports game this year, be it lacrosse, soccer or track. At most games this season I could count the number of students in the stands on one hand.

In fact, the most consistent supporters of the Grady boys soccer team—other than our parents—is the girls soccer team. The reason: Their love for soccer? Commitment to the Grady soccer program?  Nope and nope, the main reason for their continued support is they aren’t charged admission to the game. After their game they just head to the stands, ready to cheer us on. Similarly, the boys often make up half the crowd at the girls game.

The biggest crowd the Grady soccer teams have attracted this year was for the St. Pius game, when a $5 ticket also got you a hot dog or hamburger, a drink and chips. It’s not a coincidence that the biggest crowd of the season was on a day when the price of admission was worth the money.

The increased attendance wasn’t the only effect created by the increased value of the ticket. The Grady soccer team, which sponsored the event, raised more than $100.

Again, lower ticket prices won’t increase attendance at the expense of making money. Those two things aren’t mutually exclusive.

It’s fine to charge $5 to students for entrance to a football game, but for all other sports, including basketball, lacrosse and soccer a $2 to $3 ticket is a better solution. That is if APS truly wants to make more money.

It’s time to wake up, APS—the solution is staring you right in the face. Now it’s just time to start paying attention.

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