August 16, 2013 - 2:01pm
BY AMRUTHA SIVAKUMAR
Starting this fall, the characteristically poor cellular data service in Michigan Stadium during football games won’t prevent you from being rewarded for your Wolverine spirit.
The Athletic Department announced a change this week to the Honoring Attendance, Involvement & Loyalty program that will allow students to collect attendance points without a smartphone.
H.A.I.L. — a free program that allows University students to garner points and awards based on regular athletic event attendance — was introduced in early fall 2012 to incentivize and boost attendance across varsity sports.
During the 2012 football season, the H.A.I.L. smartphone application faced setbacks as heavy cellular traffic in the Big House inhibited students from “checking in” to games. At the time, Angela Thick, the department’s assistant director of marketing, said the Athletic Department would begin to develop a system where points could be accumulated through ticket scans.
As promised, the Athletic Department delivered.
To gauge student feedback, the Athletic Department issued a survey at the end of the last academic year to those who had participated in H.A.I.L., and found a common concern was the feeble cellular service during game days. While other University stadiums did not face problems with data connectivity, the H.A.I.L smartphone application often proved to be unusable in the highly congested Michigan Stadium.
“There’s not the density of people like football for anywhere else,” Thick said. “This is really just a function issue and we knew the (application) was not functioning in the stadium so we wanted to clear that issue completely.”
While all other revenue and non-revenue sporting events will utilize the smartphone application and GPS location services to collect and track points, points for attendance at football games will be accumulated solely through tickets — where students who enter through the gates will have points loaded onto their account.
Thick said she estimated that points collected during Saturday football games would be put into student H.A.I.L accounts by the following week, whereas the smartphone application tracks points instantaneously. However, points earned at football games would eventually be synced across smartphone devices.