After first working with the NFL in 2013, UCF professors for the DeVos Sports Business Management Graduate Program have decided to use their experience to collaborate with a college in California to make sure the female fan voice is heard in the world of college athletics.
It was announced in a press release on Oct. 14 that California State University North and UCF faculty, director at DeVos Scott Bukstein and DeVos professor C. Keith Harrison, would be teaming up for a female fan-focused study beginning in November of this year.
"This partnership will enable the voices of women to be heard in a way that increases awareness for the female game day experience and drive new business solutions for this population," Harrison said in the press release.
Natalie Nelson is one of those female fans that want her voice to be heard. A student in the DeVos graduate program at UCF, Nelson believes that female fans can often go unnoticed and that studies like these can help industry leaders acknowledge that there are many highly competent female fans that are very important to the market.
"Even though we account for almost half the fan base, the only time that we are recognized is when we are over-sexualized cheerleaders, or the subject of sexism in commercials during the sporting event," Nelson said. "It is time to recognize that there are females who are knowledgeable about sports and genuinely love the industry as well."
The study plans to survey hundreds of women at a number of different CSUN sporting events in order to better understand the female Matador fans from a data-driven and analytics-based business perspective.
Focuses of the survey will include a wide variety of topics such as overall gameday experience, opinions of team merchandise and food and beverage options at the sports facilities. The study will replicate the original study of female fan experience conducted for the NFL by professor Harrison.
The goal of the study is to make sure that the entire female fan demographic feels welcomed and valued and to help CSUN athletics leaders make data-driven and highly informed decisions with respect to the female market. A market, which he states, is a key demographic with respect to revenue generation.
A 2011 survey conducted by Scarborough Sports Marketing for the NCAA found that 40 percent of college sports fans are female. The need to focus on female sports fans is undeniable and has become so from a financial and moral standpoint, Harrison said.
This is the first female fan-oriented collaboration of professors Harrison and Bukstein with CSUN, and there are talks of potentially working with other colleges that may also want to ensure high quality experiences for their female fan bases. When asked whether his own university will be included, professor Bukstein was confident that opportunity would arise in the future.
"Currently, the UCF athletics department is focusing on so many other areas, but there's no question that that could be an opportunity down the road," Bukstein said.