Don’ t be so quick to blame students for empty section
Mark Hollis, you deserve to be embarrassed — even angry — about the MSU football student section, because it was embarrassing toward the end of Saturday’s game. With that being said, I’m tired of the students always getting the heat.
First, the section needs to be smaller. I think most students agree with that. Eliminate the upper deck and spread out the regular fans, because a few empty seats here or there is much better than a block of empty seats, which is the case during most games.
Secondly, the Nebraska game was four hours in length. That is way too long with so few minutes of game action. Not only that, but it was an 8 p.m. start time and didn’t finish until after midnight.
Also, if the Spartans didn’t blow a 27-3 lead after the third quarter, this conversation would not be taking place. The way the game was going, 24 points was a blowout. If the game was closer, you can expect there would’ve been more fans staying, but the Spartans were leading by four possessions and it was cold, it was wet and it was tiring. When you’re beating a team by that kind of score, what’s the point of staying in miserable conditions? It happens in stadiums all around the country.
Junior quarterback Connor Cook even admitted he took his foot off the pedal because he thought the win was in the bag. I don’t know how fans can change the attitude of players.
As a student, it is an amazing experience being a part of the student section, but fans in regular seating don’t always understand the energy it takes. Students are on their feet for the better part of three-quarters of a game, and in weather like we faced on Saturday, it can be miserable. Why sit through poor weather when you can sit in the comfort of your own home and have a better view of the action on television?
I get that the students are the heart and soul of Spartan Stadium, but where is the criticism of the regular fans?
Yes, by the fourth quarter against the Cornhuskers, most of the 13,000 fans in the student section were gone, but what about the roughly 55,000-plus fans still remaining? Where do they get off criticizing the students? That is still larger than the capacities of more than 60 percent of Division I football stadiums across the U.S. That is larger than Autzen Stadium — home of the Oregon Ducks. That is still plenty of people for a great atmosphere.
I’m not saying to take all the blame off the students, but for the noise factor that head coach Mark Dantonio and junior defensive end Shilique Calhoun desired, that still could have been provided.
Don’t forget, the students are trying to make the most of their college experience, so you can expect most to enjoy tailgating. That’s another couple of hours at least on their feet. And we’re getting all the blame from fans who sit down the majority of the game? Bringing intense energy for 3-plus hours is physically and mentally exhausting.
I don’t want to hear about the students from the Bobby Williams and John L. Smith eras labeling themselves as “true fans.” Nearly every MSU game is televised today, adding at least an additional 30 minutes to the game. And when the game is nationally televised, it’s even longer. You think ABC, ESPN or any other major network cares about the length of the games? Absolutely not. More down time means more time for ads. More ads means more money for the networks.
Simply making the student section smaller won’t always be the solution, but if the upper deck is taken away from students then the lower deck will be full longer, because no student wants to sit in the upper deck. When you do, you feel distant from the amazing atmosphere the section provides.
Having assigned seating is one possible idea, but a problem would still arise with people leaving early.
These are just a couple possible solutions, but Hollis and his staff need to find a way to keep fans in the stands. Football isn’t enough anymore to keep the students’ attention.
Derek Blalock is an advertising junior and former State News sports reporter.