“A frustrating aspect of being a Gopher football season ticket holder is the lack of consistent atmosphere during football games. The student section is rowdy, but the rest of the stadium often sits on their hands and reserves their energy and passion for big 3rd downs in a close game. That is why this past Saturday during the MSU game I was pleasantly surprised to find my section, 105 rows 1 through 15, on their feet, making noise throughout the first quarter. Maybe it was the rain-soaked bleachers driving people to their feet, but fans were great. Then, sometime early in the 2nd quarter, two security officers came down to section 105 and started commanding people sit. When security received pushback from fans the officers said, “People behind you can’t see.” It immediately killed the vibe of the section. Some didn’t listen. Some, including my buddy I was sitting with, left the game in disbelief. Regardless, it killed the atmosphere. Now I understand the person who stands up the entire game for no reason while everyone else is sitting can be annoying, but this was a close game, a lot of people were cheering bringing needed energy to the game and it was muzzled by some crusty fans who couldn’t see. Again, unbelievable.”
I got this note from a reader (it’s always good to know there’s at least one) earlier this week and, while it didn’t surprise me in the least, it made me angry. I’ve written a bit on the game atmosphere, particularly around the fan’s and university’s culpability in how much it sucks. But experiences such as the above will kill any hope of ever establishing the loud, intimidating conditions the team needs to achieve what we all want it to.
My crew and I are courteous standers. We’re up every third down and for five or six big plays in the game, but will otherwise sit if the people behind us sit. Still, several times a year, including the game this past weekend, someone behind us will ask/tell us to sit down because they can’t see. We politely tell them it’s a football game and they should either also stand or go piss up a rope. This usually resolves the matter. We’ve never had security called on us to sit down.
There’s a few points to address here. First, unless you’re physically impaired – and there is seating in the stadium specifically for people who are – why are you asking people to sit down at a football game instead of just standing up? Got a shorty who can’t see over people standing? Ask the people in front of you to move a little to the side and I bet they’ll accommodate the little shit (I mean that in the most endearing possible way). It’s a college football game not the opera. People are allowed to get excited and show enthusiasm for things. In a lot of cases that’s way easier to do while standing up. Again, unless you’re physically impaired or have a health condition, if you’re carping about people in front of you standing it’s because you’re too lazy/unengaged to stand. It’s a free country, but I’m not diminishing my fervor for the game to accommodate your laziness.
Second, why would someone call security to force fans to sit down? What sort of expectations have we set as a program culture that this is an appropriate time to call in people who are there to break up fights and clean out the drunks who went sleepy time? People who do this have to be the same folks who call the cops when kids are loitering on the street outside of their house for too long or someone throws a cigarette out their car window. I mean, why talk to or try to negotiate with the standers so everyone can have a good time, when you can use the nuclear option immediately to have security ruin someone else’s enjoyment? That’s pretty weak, man. We get enough people doing this and we’ll have a milquetoast atmosphere until we’re all reduced to quarks by the gamma ray burst when Betelgeuse goes supernova.
Finally, and most importantly, is there actually a rule set by the university that security was enforcing or was security just trying to accommodate the salty sitters? If the latter, the U needs to correct that with the security firm immediately. If the former, then it’s hard to believe the U is really dedicated to building a winning team. Investments in the stadium, practice facilities and coaching are all fantastic and really indicative of a program on the come. Despite those positive signs, if your policy is to antagonize your most passionate fans during the actual you’re going to have a lifeless suckhole of a stadium environment.
I’m going to give the U the benefit of the doubt and say this was just some security staff that wanted to play Batman and dispense justice on the evil standers. Nevertheless, it feels like the standing/sitting issue is going to be one that continues to irritate people on both sides. I’m of the belief that people should be able to sit down and enjoy the game if they want; but not at the expense of vociferously supporting the team and others’ ability to enjoy the game how they want to.
Many stadiums, especially in professional sports, have created family-friendly sections that actively keep boozehounds like me from disrupting Johnny and Jane’s day at the ball park. I wonder if we might do the same with the sitters. Create a section or three for them where they can watch the game while relaxing on the comfort of their ample bottoms, with unencumbered sight lines and void of the menacing, passion-fueled standers. That leaves the rest of us to stand, maximize the potential of our diaphragm and lungs for yelling, free from the weighty anchor of the lazy sitters. All damn game if we want to.