May 7, 2010

Penn State, on moving the student section: "It's science"

While it's not breaking news, it is adding salt to an already festering wound for the Penn State student section. Not only did Tim Curley announce late last year that the students would be moved to make way for rich alumni, the Penn State athletic director has now turned to hired guns and the "science" somehow behind the move.

Brian "MGoBlog" Cook over at The Sporting Blog wrote about how this "It's science" excuse is gaining traction with athletic departments across college football, including in his own Big House. But he also pointed to the complete snake oil sales pitch that many are actually listening to:
"Penn State students take a back seat to no one when it comes to dedication. The university has seen fit to reward this dedication with the seats that would otherwise go to traveling heathens who know not of the Church of Paterno..."
I have never been one to defend a student section that was fantastic for one season, then took that reputation and lived off of it, rather than living up to it. But how the athletic department is trying to sell this, it would be better to just shut up about it and stop bringing the issue back into the limelight. If you're going to shift 20,000 students over a few sections, just do it. End of story. The last thing this fan base nees is another gimmicky excuse--here's the story on that acoustics study--for anything the athletic department, and their branding buddies, decide to do for the "benefit" of Penn State football.

Would I like to see the student section stay put, center stage on every television broadcast? Well, you tell me that this isn't an awesome sight to any 17-year-old kid looking for a place to attend college:

I'm somewhere in that cruise ship, forget where, though

Now think about how that would look if you took away the four northern-most section (along the west stands). That's about half the student section that would be shifted off-camera. The only way the new eastern half of the student section would get on TV, would be for the cameras to deliberately pan down and to the right. Why would they do that? It's not worth it to waste an in-game shot, or even one during a break, just to point out that the students are "over here, too."

Penn State should want this story to go away, but for some reason, there's this need to validate what they're doing. Please, there's absolutely no explanation warranted. Trust me.

By the time football tickets go on sale for 2011, this story undoubtedly will be thrust back into the news and blogs. But guess what? No one will really care. Why? Because there's nothing we can do about it. The student section will still sell out in a day or two. The rest of the stadium will be sold out, again. Nothing will be different. Students will complain. But the tickets will still sell.

After all, what have the students done lately to prove they really care about going to the games...

The student section at kickoff, for the 2009 season opener against Akron. (Photo HT: BSD)

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