SPORTSTAKE: Gameday is more than a student event

By Ross Benes

We’re taking gameday back.

Ross Benes/Sports Columnist

Students matter most. We run this university. We need better seating, more tickets and cheaper prices. We…haven’t heard so much self-interested garbage since Bill Callahan insisted he would “restore the order.”

Every year Nebraska enters the season ranked, inevitably the Daily Nebraskan will run a sob story the second week of the season profiling some students who had difficulty getting football tickets. The DN will then protest the athletic department and run editorials demanding students receive more tickets because some people missed the boat and didn’t sign up immediately when they had the opportunity.

But there are 80,000 other fans in Memorial Stadium who’ve been selling out the stadium since 1962. Ones whose ticket demand doesn’t greatly fluctuate with preseason hype. Ones who actually fund both the university and the athletic department through their donations, taxes and overall support whether the Huskers go 12-0 or 5-7.

So with such consistent support from the older fan base, why should the athletic department issue more tickets to students?

Giving more student tickets is not only a poor financial decision, as student tickets cost only about a third of regular tickets, but it’s a poor fandom decision too, considering students are less appreciative and less likely to use their tickets.

After the debacle of the 2007 season, students were hesitant to buy tickets for 2008, taking until the week of the game to finish buying their allotment. Students were so passionate about Nebraska football many of them missed their only chance to watch a Heisman winner play at Memorial Stadium.

I’m talking about the 2008 Baylor game, when at least a 1,000 students simply didn’t show up to see Robert Griffin III give Baylor a halftime lead. Apparently some students didn’t find attending a conference game important back when we weren’t picked to win the conference.

Take that back. Even when Nebraska is leading the conference, students still don’t find it important to attend games.

In a game that could decide the season’s fate, whether Nebraska makes the Big 10 Championship, students ditched Memorial Stadium at halftime during Saturday’s contest with Penn State, leaving a gap in the southeast corner. Apparently, they hadn’t watched a game this season and felt the Huskers had no comeback ability.

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I’m not here to just rag on the student section. For the past five years, I’ve sat in the student section and loved the energy it creates. Within the student section, you will find some of the most passionate and diehard fans. There are kids that camp out the night before games. Many others wait in line for hours just to get a good seat. And there’s no argument that the student section is most influential in pumping up the crowd and cranking up the atmosphere.

But I’ve also lived in Nebraska my whole life and know residents from Scottsbluff to Falls City would immediately snatch up any available tickets. They would also happily stay for the whole game, regardless of how cool the tailgate down the street is.

Unlike people who pay full value, students view the game as a mere social event. They only pay $23 per ticket, so what’s the point of staying the second half if I’m only losing $11.50, they think. And if the game starts at 2:30 p.m., why even show up to watch a FCS (formerly D-1aa) foe get crushed? That’s a much-too-early start when you’re too tired, drunk and hungover from the night before or the morning tailgate.

This isn’t unique to Nebraska. This season I’ve watched commentators point out empty gaps in student sections at powerhouses such as Notre Dame, Wisconsin and even Michigan.

For all I know, Nebraska students are the least apathetic in the country. Regardless, their dedication pales in comparison to the state’s obsession with the Huskers. So as students, let’s just recognize we didn’t create the program, it’s not about us and it’s more important to those geezers who actually stay in their seats during the entire fourth quarter.

So, if students want to keep complaining about a lack of tickets, the least they can do is show up and stay for the damn game.

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