Complacency is common among students

Submitted by Finance-PhD on August 27th, 2013 at 3:41 PM

So in the WSJ today, there was an article about Alabama winning too much.

At Alabama, Fans Are Getting a Little Bored With All the Winning

The part I wish to mention was the following paragraph.

Amid all of this prolonged dominance, there are signs that boredom, if not downright apathy, has started to creep in. The first offenders: Alabama students. The Crimson White, Alabama's school newspaper, reported in November that 30% of student tickets went unused by students last season.

"You get to the point where there's a game against Western Carolina at 11 in the morning that's not really worth waking up for," said Marc Torrence, the newspaper's sports editor, referring to a 49-0 rout last season. "You can do a whole lot of other things on a Saturday, like get a head start on your drinking or sleep in, that are a lot more interesting."

There were concerns raised about UM students not showing up early and not staying for the entire games. I wsa just showing that it is not the success of the team. It is just an issue about the fans/students.



August 27th, 2013 at 3:59 PM ^

The student was the school's sports editor and the interviewing paper was the WSJ. This wasn't some random student interviewed by a blog. I'd hope the Daily's staff would have answered better if interviewed by the WSJ.


August 27th, 2013 at 5:15 PM ^

I'm intrigued by jblaze's comment. I understand the sentiment, however, it posses an interesting question regarding expectations of media responses. In geneal, I think the expectation would be to respond with a well worded truthful answer, regardless of what perception that creates. In this case, it was certainly an honest answer. So, would the hope be to provide honest answers or answers which simply perpetuate a perception even if not true?
I think this plays out in a very real manner in broader national media, but I'll leave it at that.

South Bend Wolverine

August 27th, 2013 at 3:46 PM ^

Things like this remind me of how different I am (and probably most of us here are) from a lot of other fans, and how hard it is for me to understand them.  It is just unfathomable to me to deliberately not use a football ticket, especially if you're a current student.  I seriously do not understand what is going on in these kids' minds, it is a totally foreign idea to me.


August 27th, 2013 at 3:51 PM ^

If you're a current student, and the team wins at a 90% clip, and your team is about to play a FBS school, yes, it's not crazy to skip the game.

Think back to 2009 when Michigan played Delaware State. As a college student there were probably 25 things better to do on a Saturday (including watching a different football game) than watching that mess.


August 27th, 2013 at 4:09 PM ^

I don't care who the opponent is, or what the weather would be like, or how bad we were favored. And maybe this is a product of myself not being spoiled/lucky enough to go to more games, but I wouldn't miss it for anything. Seeing the winged helmet, seeing the sharp lines of the block M being formed by the band, just being in the damn Big House. Nothing beats that. 

Maybe if I would have been a student there (which 2008 would have been my first year), I would feel differently after all the suffering I would have went through in person. But I really find it hard to believe that I could ever feel that way.

South Bend Wolverine

August 27th, 2013 at 4:23 PM ^

This, thank you.  In my 4 years, I never skipped a home game & only showed up late once, due to missing my alarm clock.  Stayed for every second of a 43-10 win over Miami (NTM), and 55-0 pounding of EMU, a rain-interrupted 41-17 drubbing of CMU, and (to take one on the other side) That Awful Oregon Game.  It never even occured to me to skip out on purpose.  Going to these games is a rare privilege and one to be treasured.

For the record, it's not that I'm terribly surprised that fans don't show up or leave early.  It's that I just cannot access that mindset, it is utterly foreign to me.  To prioritize getting hammered with a bunch of frat brahs over the greatest tradition in modern sports is just not a decision I can grasp.


August 27th, 2013 at 10:41 PM ^

I was at Michigan for 8 years (2004-2012, so some good, some not so good) and didn't miss a single home game and left early once (Indiana game in undergrad). My parents have had season tickets my whole life and going to games is pretty much religion for me. The way I look at it, I get 7-8 chances a year to sit in the Big House and watch the team play, so I'm going to enjoy every second I can. I can drink beer anytime in the other 358 days a year, or at least I could while in college.

I can understand not everyone was raised with Michigan football the way that I was and that it doesn't hold the same importance to them. However, I can't understand how people can drink heavily Friday night, wake up hungover, get hammered again between 9 and noon, and then go stand in the sun for 3 hours at the game. That just seems exhausting to me and a waste of a good buzz. To me, if the game is over at 330 or 7 there's still plenty of time to drink and enjoy the rest of the Saturday. My favorite college memories are coming back from a Michigan win, gradually draining a 24 pack during the 330 and 7 games while bull shitting with my roommates. If you're a semi-serious college football fan, the offseason (to me) is way too long to spend every Saturday in a drunken blur not actually watching the games.


August 27th, 2013 at 6:09 PM ^

Yes, there are different levels of fans

  • Some fans can't wait to get to the stadium to watch pre-game, get settled in, so forth.
  • Others are too busy drinking, playing beer pong, hanging out, tailgating, etc.
  • Back in the day when I was a student, pre-Internet and pre-laptop, game days were absolutely the best time to get as much computer time as you wanted or needed on the UofM mainframe. (If this makes no sense to you, be glad you don't understand.)
  • Even beyond computer time, if you had a big project due or test coming on Monday, giving up 8 hours of study and prep was sometimes too much.

I'd like to think I can go to more football games now, but the reality is different:

  • Go to my son's football games, or to Michigan?
  • Miss work and take vacation days to go to a game, or spend vacation time with my family?
  • Spend time with my daughter in the Navy when she has a weekend free?
  • Shell out big bucks (for me) to see a marquee game, (or less bucks on a MAC Snack game) or spend it on something else?

The other huge change is high definition TV, coupled with Tivo (or other recording options.) Back in my day, you either went to the game, or you didn't see it at all, unless it was a major contest (Ohio, MSU, ND, a few others.) I remember listening to the wonderful and enthusiastic radio voice of Bob Ufer on WJR many a Saturday afternoon. Now, when every game is covered by some cable outlet, and with a big screen TV, with high definition, you can enjoy every game in the comfort of home. For instance, this Saturday, here in the Chicago suburbs, I will probably sit down with a buddy around 4pm (5pm in Ann Arbor.) We'll watch the game, but skip through most of the pregame, all the commercials, most of the half time, and some of the replays. We'll watch an entire game, with iced tea and snacks and comfortable chairs, in about an hour and a half, maybe two. I'll hop in my car and be home in 5 minutes. Given that it will be hot, probably with thunderstorms, and that I'd have to drive 4 - 5 hours each way, plus stay overnight, plus buy food, plus pay for gas, plus buy tickets, plus find a substitute preacher to officiate at a wedding and preach Sunday morning, well, TV sounds pretty good!


August 27th, 2013 at 7:22 PM ^

Agree with the fundamental notion that in any crowd of 100,000 people that it is unlikely everyone is there for the same reasons.

Like college football in general, college football fandom is more than just football. For a lot of people, the social aspects are paramount. Getting together with friends and family (sometimes the most contact they have is during the season at the game), socializing (with or without drink) and bascially contacting on a social level. For lot of students, they go because their friends are going, or there are parties, or there will be beer. Does everyyone who goes to rock concerns really truly "love" the band? Can they all recite all of the lyrics to the major hits and the B sides and tracks from all of the albums? Do they know all of the ins and outs of who was in and out of the band and the story beyond each song or tour? No, but they are still fans and they still go for the same reason people go to the games.

Many super serious football fans would actually prefer to watch on TV so they can catch all of the replays and track the other games in the progress because they enjoy that aspect - they could care less about the band, pre-games, flybys and stuff. They like all of those stats, video snippets and being to cut away to other games and watch 3-4 games at a time. If football fandom was all about being serious about the actual game, it would be video replays, x's and o's and play breakdowns.

For most of the people on this board I would guess they want to see the game from kick off to final whistle but we have to acknowledge that there are a lot of kids who are at the game because it is something to do. They just aren't that into the game. 


August 27th, 2013 at 7:34 PM ^

I'm old enough that I understand your third bullet point completely.  I have had season tickets since my freshman year.  I bought them for 11 years when I lived in Minnesota, even though I only made it to a couple of games a year.  I bought season tickets because the enjoyment of being at the game, the fans, the band, the tailgates, were all far better than watching the game on TV. 

But, the relentless pressure from the athletic department to squeeze  every nickle from the fans so they can build indoor rowing facilities, plus the added security hassles each year, plus the advent of HDTV noted above, combined with all the traditional hassles of long lines to the bathrooms, traffic before and after the game, etc. have greatly diminished the enjoyment of being at the game and increased the attractiveness of staying home and watching it on TV.

The one day seat cushion ban that wasn't (last month) forced me, once again, to ask why I lay out close to $2K for four season tickets.  The answer, to this point, is that I would really miss seeing and hearing the band, I would miss the chance to bring my granddaughter to one or two of the exhibition (non-cpnference) games, and perhaps I would miss tailgating.  So I'll probably keep buying, for a while.

But eventually I won't, as age and inconvenience win out over nearly 50 years of enthusiasm.  Will my son, also an alum, pick up my tickets?  Neither of us knows.

And that's the issue facing the athletic department.  The wait list for season tickets is gone.  Dave Brandon hires marketing "experts" to generate "game day excitement" like canned music, rocket men and flyovers, but the number of people buying, students and non-students, continues to decline. 

I suspect by next year there will regularly be empty spaces in several areas of the stadium, not just the student section.


August 27th, 2013 at 4:07 PM ^

Always studying or smoking reefer or making sexual relations or listening to jazz fusion...what are you going to do?  You can use your small army to press them into cheer gangs, but that tends to be frowned upon.


August 27th, 2013 at 3:56 PM ^

Correct me if I am wrong but I remember last season. The student section was not full for MSU, last year. I think if students dont want to show up, then they must shrink the student section, and give tickets to the students who are attending every game and staying. If they dont meet those requirments, then why do they deserve a ticket.


August 27th, 2013 at 3:56 PM ^

Michigan football fan, I watch every second of every game no matter who they're playing. We only get 13 games a year (or 14) so I'll be damned if I'm going to miss one.


August 27th, 2013 at 4:02 PM ^

when I was in the CoE, football Saturdays were pretty killer. I loved football season, but it was almost a sigh of relief when it was over because football Saturdays just eat up that whole day and then you work your tail off on Sunday to make up for it.

That's part of the reason I loved hockey season. You could sleep in Saturday, work all afternoon and catch the hockey game at night and then have a more relaxed work day on Sunday. I'm not surprised students across the country have decided that Big School vs Southwest Tech is not worth their time


August 27th, 2013 at 4:19 PM ^

Imagine if that happened against that team from Boone, North Carolina, on the first-ever BTN broadcast, a game that will live in infamy. 

I can remember watching that game at a Michigan fan bar in downtown Charlotte, and doing so on a hot patio deck where the heat and glare made watching almost as uncomfortable as the events unfolding on TV. And I recall a Michigan alum sitting down next to me, having come from home to watch the second half, because he couldn't believe what he was watching might happen. None of us could;  a loss of epic proportion was actually occurring.

I'd been at this place the previous November and you could barely find standing room to watch a classic slugfest between old rivals the day after Bo passed. I'd been at this place when John Navarre showed up for The Game in 2004, and then when the hero of the Washington opener used to congregate with us to watch Michigan games after Henne got hurt. 

If you are a student and your team succeeds a lot, you can become bored with the enterprise. You may even not be in any condition by the time you reach the stadium to even acknowledge that you went. But once you leave that school and follow the program, that allegiance has a powerful influence. And so, it's hard to imagine the gall of others not to care as much. But stimulation is stimulation. 

I don't care much about the fandom in Alabama, which is, btw mostly off the chart. And I know that if you are using the Crimson Tide example as an illustration of late arrivals at Michigan Stadium to seed the cloud with rainy day parallels.

The truth is, kids will do what they want. And it matters not what we think or say to impact their behavior. But the Horror that hot Saturday against a school where students that summer who attended App State told me their team wasn't afraid of playing Michigan, and looked forward to it, still rejoice in their mountain town about that win. And they don't care if they were supposed to lose bigtime. 


August 27th, 2013 at 4:26 PM ^

i'd be willing to bet that half the people lamenting how these young'ns aren't going to games anymore would be guilty of much of the same were they on campus now.

It's a different era (full disclosure, I graduated in 2011). We play the defending national champion in Dallas (read: NOWHERE NEAR CAMPUS), serve [poop] on a plate with games against middling MAC and/or FCS schools, and students are supposed to be happy with the fact that they get to pay $25 a pop for that (and that's before the $4 water bottles and other exorbitant concessions)? How many of you would shell out $200+ for season tickets when the home slate consists of App State, Miami (NTM), Utah, Minnesota, Penn State, Indiana and Maryland? How many of you paid $200 total for FOUR seasons of football?


August 27th, 2013 at 4:41 PM ^

You'd think the students who already paid $200+ for their tickets would show up to get their money's worth. If the schedule isn't worth it, don't buy tickets. The problem isn't lack of sales, it's tardy/lack of attendance.


August 27th, 2013 at 7:37 PM ^

Never missed a game, or a kickoff that I remember.   Waking up in Ann Arbor on a football Saturday was like waking up on Christmas morning, and getting to the stadium was like getting to the xmas tree*.   I was always so excited omigoshomigoshgameday and the morning would drag on and on... it seemed like kickoff would never arrive.  I just can't imagine being in A2 with a ticket and saying "meh... gonna sleep through noon and catch a little on the TV later."  

*I don't really know what I'm talking about because I'm not Christian, but I learned most of these things from TNT's annual "A Christmas Story" marathon which I assume is accurate.  You'll shoot your eye out, kid.


August 28th, 2013 at 11:32 AM ^

How many of you would shell out $200+ for season tickets when the home slate consists of App State, Miami (NTM), Utah, Minnesota, Penn State, Indiana and Maryland? How many of you paid $200 total for FOUR seasons of football?

We're not talking about students who choose not to buy tickets. That's their decision and it's fine. What is frustrating to a lot of people is that there are many students who ARE buying tickets but just aren't using them. The fact that the tickets have become so pricey is all the more reason for them to go and get their money's worth.


August 27th, 2013 at 4:32 PM ^

It would be interesting to see what the attendance figures were for Alabama students the several years before Saban arrived when they were putting up 4-9, 6-7 and 7-6 like seasons and playing in the Independence Bowl was the big accomplishment.

This may be an issue at many schools but, you know, it's still football. I just don't get it.

My issue with UM students is not leaving early but rather not arriving until halftime. It's really a downer having a packed stadium for Pregame except for the student section which is only 30% full. When the band formed the block M and when the team charged out if the tunnel, that used to be big with the students regardless of the opponent. I think it's kind of unfair for the players. Who do the players rush to celebrate with after games? The student section. The same student section that's only there for half a game.

It's only 6-8 Saturdays out of the entire year where you get to watch your team on your home field. Just go to the damn game. And get there on time. The alcohol will still be available the rest of the day once the game is finished.


August 27th, 2013 at 5:30 PM ^

I agree with these sentiments completely. I think this was more true in a different time though.

Most big time programs have done many things which separate the student athletes from the non-athelete students. Eating halls, study lounges, private work out facilities, separate academic advisors, and more have all been developed to the point where most interactions would only be in the classroom where there is often times limited interaction. So the rallying call of coming out to support your fellow students almost doesn't exist anymore. And for everyone who is going to be quick to point out Denard showing up and being part of the student section at basketball and hockey games, that is a rare exception, not the norm.

I think students would feel more of a link and be willing to drag themselves out of bed to get to the game on time if there was more of a connection to the team.


August 27th, 2013 at 4:52 PM ^

My observations:

  • As an engineering student, I lamented losing my entire Saturday at times.  The tailgating and games are no doubt some of the best times I had at the university, so it's not like it's a bad thing, but I can guarantee you many students would much rather use Saturday to work rather than watch a game against FCS schools
  • Student tickets are not priced as high as regular tickets, so the cost of missing a game is not as difficult.  Not to mention you are guaranteed tickets (if you purchase them, obviously) as a student and so if you miss one game against lowly UMass, there's 5-7 more to catch.

Of course, my second point doesn't absolve students who skip big, important games (like MSU last year, for example).

Mr Miggle

August 27th, 2013 at 4:53 PM ^

They used Western Carolina as an example, but it's a bad example. That student attendance would suffer for that game is perfectly understandable. But 30% of the student tickets went unused over the course of the season. That means a lot of emtpy seats on a regular basis. 


August 27th, 2013 at 5:58 PM ^


This is the article in the student paper about attendence.

Alabama’s season opener against San Jose State in 2010 drew the most students since 2008, when the University started using ACT Cards for football tickets and the earliest that data was made available. Of the 17,000 seats given to students, only 13,638 were filled for the game. That means 3,362 tickets went unused, and the section was just over 80 percent capacity.

And only 69.4 percent of student tickets were used in 2012, the lowest rate since 2009.

So it was never full but has become worse in recent years.


August 27th, 2013 at 5:18 PM ^

I don't think "complacency" or "bored by winning" is the reason students don't get up for a crappy game against an overmatched opponent at 11 am.  It's been over a decade since I was in school, but convincing anyone to get up for a body bag game and deal with stadium security, long lines, high prices, crowd, etc. was hard even when fandom was super-high.


August 27th, 2013 at 5:36 PM ^

To each his own. When I was a student at UM I went to every game because I love football. We won most of the time, not always, regardless I'd stay until the end of the game.