Perhaps you've seen it mentioned on Twitter or in a fanshot from about three weeks ago.
Maybe you've even visited their website and wondered what this new organization is all about. I know when I first visited their website I looked at their three pillars of Boosterism, Philanthropy, and Mentorship and I was skeptical that their goals would mesh well with Bruins Nation. Honestly, I think that's because the use of the word Boosterism kind of threw me a little.
But, after the fanshot was posted, I contacted Gene Karzen the founder and Chairman of the Alliance's Advisory Board and we met for four hours that felt like 30 minutes on a Friday night a few weeks back. Why did it feel like 30 minutes? Because it turns out that the BFA wants to be a force for change by building a working relationship with the Athletic Department. It sounded strangely reminiscent of what I've been doing in developing working relationships with different members of the Athletic Department over the past year.
And, while I can appreciate how many people may be skeptical of trying to work with the Athletic Department, the past year has given some cause for hope. Since the departure of Mark Harlan for USF and Josh Rebholz was promoted as Harlan's replacement, there has been a marked change of direction by the Athletic Department. To be sure, when it comes to making changes, like Bruins Nation, the Athletic Department is a lot like steering a cruise ship. You don't exactly have turn-on-a-dime capability. Change takes time. But, beginning last summer, the Athletic Department has shown a propensity for doing things differently, starting with asking for Season Ticket Holder feedback on Twitter and continuing into asking for feedback after each game and actually implementing suggestions from the feedback.
Despite these changes, we all understand that, in terms of knowing what the fanbase wants, the Athletic Department isn't there yet.
That's where the BFA comes into play.
It's modelled after the Seattle Sounders' Alliance with the intention of respectfully delivering real, actionable feedback which is deemed most important by the members of the BFA community to the Athletic Department which has agreed to listen to the BFA's feedback twice a year.
The Bruin Fan Alliance intends to highlight concerns that are the forefront of the minds of alumni, students, and fans.
The BFA Boosterism task force will fuel the enthusiasm that exists within Bruin fans while striving to energize a wider more impassioned fan base. The cornerstone to Boosterism is the start of a No Ticket Goes Unused program. This task force will organize and promote a seamless online ticket exchange allowing ticket holders to transfer unused UCLA athletic event tickets to other Bruin fans or donate tickets to supported charities. The purpose of this is to reduce the number of empty seats at UCLA home sporting events.
This concept grew out of the fact that, even among season ticket holders, Pauley Pavilion looks empty on TV and in person because the tickets which have already been paid are not getting used. It is a unique solution to the problem we have talked about often here. And, of course, many of us think that the better solution might be to have a better coach who can field a better team. That is a discussion topic for another day. The No Ticket Goes Unused program helps solve the immediate short-term problem.
Additionally, the BFA is developing a program called Bruin 4 Life as an offshoot of the No Ticket Goes Unused program with the focus on providing former football players better ticket access.
The other two pillars of the Bruin Fan Alliance are unique as well.
The first is Philanthropy. The BFA has selected two charities which they will be working with. One is the Jim Mora Count on Me Family Foundation and the other is Dribble for the Cure which benefits the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation.
The second is Mentorship. The Alliance will provide a former student-athlete mentorship platform. As UCLA student-athletes pivot toward life after competitive sports, the Alliance will introduce successful UCLA alumni in the community with former student-athletes for mentorship and counsel. One of the coolest things about the Alliance is that former Bruin student-athletes like Dietrich Riley, Aaron Hester and Donovan Carter are getting involved to make a difference.
The Bruin Fan Alliance intends to bring together Bruins and Bruin fans from every part of Bruindom. It's only by encouraging every single fan, alum and student to get involved that they can be truly representative of all Bruin fans.
Because I believe that the approach the Bruin Fan Alliance is taking is very synergistic with the approach Greg and I have taken with Bruins Nation, I want to encourage every Bruins Nation member to get involved with the Bruin Fan Alliance and have your voice heard!
To that end, I want to let each of you know about two events which are coming up next week.
The 3rd annual Athletes vs. Cancer Celebrity Flag Football game on Sunday, August 23 at 6pm at Drake Stadium. Athletes vs. Cancer was started by Matt Barnes in memory of his mother who passed away 26 days after being diagnosed with four different types of cancer in 2007. Tickets start at only $15. Using that link and posting to Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #BFAfightsCancer will trigger a matching contribution to the Jim Mora Count On Me Family Foundation from the BFA.
On Tuesday, August 25th, the BFA is hosting its first Town Hall meeting to discuss the issues most important to members of the Bruin family. Every Bruin member of the greater UCLA community is welcome to come and have his or her voice heard.
The Bruin Fan Alliance Town Hall meeting will take place on Tuesday, August 25th at 7:30 pm at Westside Tavern located inside the Westside Pavilion at 10850 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, California 90064. To RSVP for the BFA Town Hall, please do so on the BFA Facebook page.
I will be there and I encourage anyone living in Southern California to come out and discuss the issues that are most important to you as it relates to UCLA Athletics.
In the meantime, learn more about the Bruin Fan Alliance on their website.