The men's basketball team will face local school George Mason Dec. 2 at the Smith Center for the first time since 1998, and a group of student organizations is teaming up with the Spirit Office to maximize student turnout at the game and increase campus-wide support of GW athletics.
Printed next to the bold, colorful chalk announcements of campus events at the entrance to Kogan Plaza is the name of a new Web site launched to drum up support for the team and, in particular, its match-up with the Patriots. On the treadmills in the Lerner Health and Wellness Center, black bumper stickers promote the site at BeatGeorgeMason.com to gym-goers. Facebook events and a Twitter page remind fans to buy their tickets to the "Battle of the Orange Line."
The Web site includes a video promoting the renewed rivalry, as well as a countdown displaying the days until the game and the number of tickets remaining. Fans can easily purchase tickets with the provided link to Ticketmaster or share the Web site via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter.
Over the summer, student leaders on campus met with the Colonial Army, University administrators, the spirit department, the athletic department, and student-athletes to try to improve student support of athletics and the game day's atmosphere on campus.
"We want GW students to be proud of their sports teams and come out to cheer them on, whether it is in the Smith Center, on the Mount Vernon campus or at the local baseball park," junior Wesley Callahan, vice chair of Program Board, said in an e-mail.
Nicole M. Early, executive director of Sports Marketing in Creative Management, said in an e-mail the promotion of the George Mason game has been largely initiated by students.
"There has been a huge human effort by students and staff to market the game with minimal expenditures. As intended, the campaign has gone viral and groups such as the Colonial Army and Student Association are making a major push to get students to the game. One GW student even launched a Facebook group with over 800 fans already posting their commitment to attend this rivalry game," she said.
A partnership between Program Board, Class Council, the Residence Hall Association, the Student Association, the Student Athletic Advisory Council, the Spirit Office, and Greek-letter life is spearheading the campaign to promote the game and increase spirit, an issue that has long been a point of contention for many students.
Last year, the Student Athletic Advisory Council started "Buff Out" days, where students were encouraged to come to games dressed in buff T-shirts for the chance to win prizes. The George Mason game will also be a Buff Out day and the partnership of student organizations wants to get as many fans as possible dressed in buff to make sure GW has "a super majority when Mason walks onto the court," Callahan said.
Early said the campaign intends to sell out the end zone seats to GW supporters and completely fill the student section of the Smith Center on the day of the game.
The campaign is billing the game as a rivalry to stimulate student interest. The rivalry between the two men's teams dates back to the days when the schools' namesakes were alive and molding the U.S. Constitution.
"It is our goal to remind George Mason University that we have the Nation's Capital named after us, not them," Callahan said.
George Mason Athletics has bought a block of tickets to the game for their students to be able to sit together, Assistant Athletic Director for Media Maureen Nasser said. Director of Athletics at George Mason Tom O'Connor said in an e-mail he is looking forward to the game.
"George Washington is a good out of conference game on our schedule and I'm glad to see local teams playing each other," he said.