Sports marketing needs a boost

Mike Ditch Jr.

Just curious as to how many of us have thought about how good Washburn’s athletic teams really are? We have a men’s golf team that has won three consecutive MIAA championships and two consecutive trips to nationals that hardly anybody knows about. We have a women’s basketball team that won the national championship and the last four MIAA titles, and they can’t sell out a game. We have a men’s basketball team that has won or shared the MIAA title the last three years as well, and they’re struggling to maintain the women’s attendance figures this season.

Usually I would complain about the lack of student attendance at these functions, but I have come to realize it’s not the student body’s fault. I want this to serve as a wakeup call to those who are in charge of the marketing strategy of Washburn athletics. Other than the sign on I-470 proclaiming the Lady Blues’ success last year and the trophy case in Petro, there is not one mentioning I have seen on campus, or in Topeka for that matter, about the Blues winning the Division II NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP.

Are these people taking for granted the kind of success Washburn has enjoyed the last few years? Are funds lacking, therefore, preventing any kind of marketing strategy aimed toward getting the city of Topeka to embrace WU athletics? What is the story here? Washburn is financed by city taxpayers, so why not get these people to come to the games so they feel as though they are contributing on a larger scale? Is there some kind of unwritten law saying that the games should only be attended by faculty, students and alumni?

Covering games in Lee Arena this season sometimes felt like covering games in rural Wyoming with the small crowds. The men’s game against Newton had an attendance of 1,850. I’ve lived in Topeka far too long to know that there’s not a whole lot to do, so why were there only 1,850 people in attendance for this game?

I have listed several questions that should be looked at by both athletic director Loren Ferre and President Farley. Hopefully, they can find some answers and these teams can start getting the recognition they deserve.