Starting from Scratch: Learning from the Nation’s Best Student Sections

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date



College of Arts and Sciences



Faculty Sponsor

Laurel Traynowicz


Men’s basketball (MBB) student sections at universities across the nation make headlines. Schools like Gonzaga, Kansas, Kentucky, Arizona State and San Diego State have MBB student sections widely known for their crazy, exciting and creative school spirit and traditions. These schools routinely sell out their student tickets, and the faithful fans in the student section constitute the 6th man on the court. These sections create great excitement for the team and other fans, and may make a difference to the game’s outcome. A tradition adopted by many universities, the “Big Heads” in the student section to distract the opposing team during free throws, was created by San Diego State in 2002. How do these traditions get started? What makes students participate in student sections at men’s basketball games? What do other schools have that Boise State does not? The current research studied the traditions and characteristics of these and other MBB student sections, and examined how they built tradition that attracts students to games. Through observational data at men’s home basketball games during the 2017-18 season and consulting students about what makes games worth coming to, the team created a marketing plan that includes specific ideas for traditions and a strong student section. The team focused on digging deeper into the values and emotions that make the student section experience one that students treasure both as students and as alums.

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