Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 18, 2012 00:10
It was nothing short of an exemplary bad joke.
No laughter coupled with a smattering of boos and long periods of awkward, painful silences; the scene last Saturday at Rentschler Field was terrible. It was, in fact, straight up embarrassing. Now, I’m not talking about the football team; that story has been told six ways from last Sunday.
The joke was the crowd in attendance—or what was left of it. Less than a half-full stadium remained for the fourth quarter of the most critical game of the season. The student section sported more clean bleachers than Husky crazies in this, the Homecoming game. And as it wound down, the final gun was heard by more people outside the exits than it was witnessed by those still on-site.
Bleed blue—give me a freakin’ break. Lots of UConn faithful just bleed the blues if there’s bad traffic and are willing to do anything to avoid it. Atrocious and shameful, I say to you. And unfortunately, this isn’t an issue pertaining just to football games. Over the past few years, lackluster fanhood has been a problem at home games for many sports and it’s time, folks, to step up.
Now, if you’re not a regular UConn fan or don’t go to even a couple games over the year, that’s fine. No qualms here. But if you are and you do go, stay the entire time. Cheer for the people that represent you and your school. Respect the game and understand nothing is decided until the clock reads 0:00. And if nothing else, get the most bang for your buck.
Sure, you have the right to remain in your seat for however long you want. You spent your own, hard-earned money. Except, if you go in without the intention to stay until the game is assuredly over, frankly, don’t bother coming at all.
Thanks, but no thanks.
I understand that at this time, there’s as much excitement around the football program as there is surrounding a tonsillectomy. No one in UConn country is celebrating the 3-4 record or the fact that Rentschler Field will always be more than 25 miles from Storrs. Some even can’t stand the age and current record of head coach Paul Pasqualoni and thus call for his immediate termination.
But you know what? If the team topped Temple last Saturday and whipped Western Michigan like they should have, this is a 5-2 club just a couple plays away from being undefeated. Truly. Then, Pasqualoni is known as the old, wise coach masterfully guiding an injured defense and talent-depleted offense. Furthermore, not a single one person would bemoan the drive to East Hartford.
So, get over it. Those things didn’t happen, but few schools in the whole country can boast as much sustained athletic success as UConn can for so many different sports teams. No program is perfect and most people who left early thought the football team was indeed headed to 4-3. 4-3 ain’t bad, but the general mindset of the average UConn fan, in my opinion, is close.
Let me explain.
In my 21 years of life, I have never lived more than three miles from Storrs. But, in the times I’ve been away, I’ve seen games in a lot of places: Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Louisville, Providence, Cincinnati, Seton Hall, South Florida, Temple, Boston College, Tennessee, Duke, North Carolina, South Carolina, Clemson, Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, Baylor, San Diego, UC Irvine, Arizona State and more.
So, let me tell you two things:
In my experience and in comparison to those schools, our fan base and gameday support is perfectly average. Middle of the pack. But when ESPN or a top-10 opponent rolls into town, you will be hard pressed to find a louder or more amped up crowd anywhere in the country. That is a fact.
However, that level of excitement should be more consistent and not as fair-weather as it is today.
But if you think that fans in UConn territory are so fantastic, then why did we own the smallest student section at the 2011 Final Four in Houston? Why did students from nearby Rice University have to be brought in to cheer and wear blue? Why was UConn’s showing at the 2011 Fiesta Bowl the smallest amongst all schools who made the BCS that year? How come our support lacks in the biggest moments, despite the fact they should be the easiest to get up for?
Also, why do fans consistently leave early during the regular season? Last year in the most exciting game at Gampel Pavilion, a 70-67 men’s basketball loss to Cincinnati, people missed the heroics of Shabazz Napier, which kept UConn alive, just to beat the traffic. Fans alsp raced to the exits in a four-point contest against West Virginia last year with a minute still left on the clock at the XL Center. Mind you, those players were the very same ones crowned as national champions eight months earlier!.
Now, let’s be clear. This is not directed solely at students by any means. Non-students leaving and offering little support during the game are also at fault. I believe this attitude and behavior is shared and partly derived from an element of all of us being spoiled by recent successes.
In addition, its both fair and necessary to consider the required finances it would’ve taken to show up at the post-season events mentioned before. The fact of the matter was that it wasn't easy to pay for the packages put together by the university to go see the Fiesta Bowl and Final Four.
Then again, little VCU and tiny Butler made their presences felt—big time. And there was a whole month for UConn fans to figure out a way to make the trip to Phoenix that New Year’s night. Not to mention, as of late individual student tickets for football and men’s and women’s basketball have been as cheap as a roll of Charmin.
We should be better than this.
Of course, there are things in the way presently. It plain ol’ sucks to have to drive to the XL Center for 90 percent of the big basketball games and to an old East Hartford airfield for every kickoff. It blows stronger than the Jet Stream that higher-ups at UConn and elsewhere are less concerned about students and important school rivalries than they are with making more money. But, in both these instances, we ought to focus on things we can control.