It’s that time of the year again. Fill out your brackets, feel the blanket of tension cover your office, and be more grateful than ever that your desk has two monitors. If you need any further evidence that college basketball has a bigger impact than teams winning and losing games (and stressing you out), read about Zion Williamson’s shoe and its effect on Nike’ stock.
While it’s always fun to watch powerhouse programs showcase future NBA talent, viewers fall in love with a Cinderella team- usually, a mid-major who peaks at the right time wins their conference tournament, then pulls off an upset (or upsets) in the NCAA tournament. For these players and coaches, this may be their only chance to play on national television and get a glimpse of what it is like to play in a power conference, such as participating in post-game interviews, receiving extra gear, etc.
It isn’t a huge secret that there has been a controversy for years over whether these athletes are being fairly compensated. This is where location data comes in. Looking at teams who have made notable Cinderella runs since 2010- Butler and VCU in 2011, Florida Gulf Coast in 2013, and Loyola Chicago in 2018, location data has provided concrete evidence that a Cinderella team has an impact long after the tournament.
Looking at regular-season game attendance, each of these teams saw a significant increase in attendance the year following their tournament run. This means an increase in money for the university from ticket sales, concession sales, etc. Also, this increase in attendance at games means an increase in customers for restaurants surrounding the basketball arena, as people eat before and after the games. More people participating in game-day festivities create an atmosphere unique to schools with a winning athletic team, which in turn attracts new fans.
This also draws the interest of prospective students. Following their run in the tournament, these schools saw an increase in campus tours and applications. The NCAA tournament presents the perfect opportunity for universities to showcase their school pride and sense of community on a national scale, which catches the attention of high school students who are looking to attend a college that has an athletic-centered culture. The increase in interest and applications allows these schools to be more selective, which increases the prestige of the university.
So, whether this is your first time watching a college basketball game or you fill out 20 brackets, take a minute to appreciate what these athletes are doing for their team, university, and the surrounding community.
By: Caroline Shelquist