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Post At least no one is suggesting cowbells

Wednesday February 26, 2014

The issue of attendance – especially student attendance – seems to be on a lot of minds. We’ve been critical of student support for the football team, and we’ve been encouraged by some of the steps taken. The school has reduced the size of the student section but also introduced a well-received Young Alumni program to help bridge the transition from student to a lifelong fan.

But the issues of attendance persist. It’s not just a Georgia problem. Games are all televised now, and often there are one or two games that are as compelling (or more so) than the one going on in town. It’s tough to drag someone away from the HDTV, climate-controlled environment, and refreshments to sit in the elements with spotty cell coverage for four hours. Short of playing the game in the backyard, you’re not going to overcome the advantages of watching from home. The in-person experience needs to press its own advantages rather than trying to duplicate the amenities of home.

Granted, it’s a tough problem. The macro nation-wide trends aren’t going away anytime soon. I have to question the wisdom of any program investing in additional seating in this reality. We know why they’re doing it, but the arms race doesn’t make much financial sense in the short or long term. That’s not to argue against facilities improvements that address the fan experience (see Gate 6 or Reed Alley); you just can’t convince me that more seats is a good idea for anyone right now.

So faced with the job of trying to swim against the current, I don’t blame administrators for taking small bites around the edges. It’s not a problem that’s going to be solved in one swallow. Some of these ideas will be minor successes, and some will prove to be horrible.

This doesn’t seem like one of the good ideas. SEC rules have been relaxed to allow schools to pump in music between plays. Schools may already use recorded music during breaks; we’ve seen that at Sanford Stadium for years. The relaxed rules would apply, say, before a big third down play.

SEC administrators, including Georgia’s Greg McGarity, are optimistic about this rules change creating “more excitement across the conference” and enhancing the fan experience. Is this really what’s been missing from Georgia home games? Is the jock jam genre the siren song that will fill the student section?

McGarity cites the Clemson game last year. I admit that I wasn’t paying much attention to the in-game experience around me. There was a matter of a close game of national importance between two highly-ranked rivals to keep my focus. You know what really got the Clemson crowd going? Watching the team ride a bus around the stadium and rub a rock. Has Georgia considered exploring the entire spectrum of human-rock contact in order to fill and engage the stadium? Whatever Georgia is lacking relative to Clemson didn’t seem to detract from the experience against LSU. On the other hand, when you welcome three non-conference cupcakes to Sanford Stadium, anything short of a live Outkast concert isn’t going to bring people in.

As a former Redcoat, I admit that a large part of my concern here is the marginalization of a great spirit organization. The band is no small budget item – both in terms of its expense and also the opportunity cost of several hundred unsold seats. In this day of the arms race and the number crunchers, every dollar is on the table. I should note though that the athletic association (not to mention Coach Richt) has consistently been a big supporter in both words and funds of the Redcoats, and I’m assured that the Redcoats have a place at the table in these discussions to improve the in-game experience at Sanford Stadium. They too have a duty to keep their stands repertoire fresh and entertaining, and they’ve done so over the past several seasons. You never get optimistic when it looks as if the consultants are in charge, but it looks as if we’ll see Georgia try to take advantage of this new rule.

2 Responses to 'At least no one is suggesting cowbells'

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  • Cover your ears everyone McGarity’s piped in music is coming! Music at Sanford Stadium is a mix between the british invasion and miley cyrus. I love when the redcoats play the traditional tunes like glory, glory, battle hymn, etc. Can’t get enough. I don’t think british music should be anywhere near southern football. Paint it black is a melancholy sad song, but we use it when we need a 3rd down stop. See what I mean? The redcoats should concentrate on traditional standards with a mix of native georgian music with prevalent horns. If only we had some famous georgians that fit the bill. Oh wait, we have otis redding, james brown & ray charles! That is homebase. Cherish it. Lose paint it black and led zep and add our native soul music, which by the way is unmatched on this planet. See – quick fix with the redcoats. Now for the real problem – piped in music. The Who to start the game? Really? We’re all wasted? Really? Saturday saturday? Really? If we’re piping in music it should be Bulldawg Bite, Dooley’s Junkyard Dawg’s, Bad Bad Leroy Brown (junkyard dawg reference), ACDC (the song with the bells), Can’t you hear me knockin (see what i did there?), etc. From going to games all my life, this is not a new problem, but I certainly don’t trust McGarity who has most certainly hired a focus group full of yankees to pick music that will get the students out of bed. It is beyond scary.

  • In your place, I’d be concerned about the band, too. With that said, would you entertain the possibility that this will go the way of the late 90′s Macarena? It’s not as if ISP (or whichever faceless corporation is in charge of the billboards) has had the greatest success choosing the songs that actually excite people.

    I think this will go the way of the black “I’m Georgia” towels – it’ll be around for a couple of seasons, long enough to see that it doesn’t really work – and just quietly go away.