October 24, 2016

The UVA Football Fan Experience

I have [much?] more to say about this, but for now, another excellent post from 'Hoos Inc' on the Wahoos 247 message board.

I gotta be honest...
I don't have a lot to say about the game Saturday that hasn't surely been said. I think we were outclassed in the trenches, and it was a matter of time before UNC's running with Hood took its toll. The play action off the run in the second half became almost inevitable. Was pleased our defense held as long as it did.

Our offense could have been helped by better cuts from our backs, and better decisions from Benkert on how he moved in the pocket....I wish he'd step UP rather than defaulting into backpedaling or rolling out....he seemed to run into pressure about as often as he did away from it. UNC did a good job on the edges, though, so that may have been more about them than him.

But even if our backs had displayed better vision and Benkert had managed his movement better, I didn't think our OL could get any push. Pass protection, regardless of Benkert's pocket-presence, was crap. Our running numbers weren't awful, but most of those were on plays with some sort of misdirection. Our ability to just run to a gap was, to my eyes, almost nonexistent. Thought that, without that, we became very limited. I was pleased it was close early in the game and that we tied it up on a creative play (yet another example of good adaptation from our coaches, week-to-week), but I thought it was clear we were going to lose after the first few drives for each team. It's a shame we are where we are on the lines, but it is what it is.

Really liked Joe Reed, though. Dude's gonna be a star and would love to see him on the field, although I know it's hard to make room at WR.

What I want to focus on is this: college football is truly getting ruined for me. I have never been more downright BORED watching a game than I was yesterday. Maybe part of that was the stadium atmosphere. Or rather, the lack thereof. I usually park over on Fontaine near Jefferson Park Ave and walk up Maury to the stadium. I have never, EVER seen it that dead 20 minutes before kickoff. Never. Now, I haven't been to every home game in the past several years, and I'm sure there were some worse crowds during ML's death throes. But this is year one! The team has shown improvement and fight. They're competing, well. And we're playing UNC! On a beautiful day! And it was the worst I've ever seen, walking up Maury. Just empty. No energy. And it didn't change a whole lot in the stadium.

And I was thinking about that as I was watching that game....and it sort of becomes clear why that's the case. Obviously there's the losing.... the disinterest of an AD that let a coach have a losing season with awful game management costing us our biggest rivalry game, THEN go 2-10, THEN go 5-7, and THEN come back YET AGAIN. That's enough to kill any fan base. But then you add in the quality of the TV coverage and the difficulty of travel, the lack of appeal to pretty much anything about the game in Scott except the game itself......and then you ruin the game, itself....and what's left?

And by ruin the game itself, I mean this: I swear to heaven and earth, stoppages for reviews of calls on the field and TV timeouts must have been double the time the actual game clock was running. At least. Throw in a 40 minute half-time, long breaks between quarters, and you're approaching triple. And that's not even including just downtime in the game where the clock is running but play has stopped. If you're comparing actual gameplay to stoppages/timeouts/halftime/etc? Gotta be 1:10 or 1:15. It's absurd. It is just tedious and awful to watch, and that's with two offenses I was genuinely looking forward to watching, and which I enjoyed watching while they were playing.

It was awful. I was absolutely bored and found myself wishing I wasn't there. And I'm an alum and kind of an uber-fan, at a game with two fairly exciting, fast-paced offenses. What does the average casual fan who just likes rooting for his local team and having something to do on a Saturday think? He's got to be thinking that he could save a couple hundred dollars and watch it with his family, and switch to the OTHER game when these insufferable stoppages pop up.

And our game was on what? CSN? ESPNU? This isn't the prime-time ABC or CBS slot where they're REALLY milking that advertising money.

Money and these damned replays have really killed the in-person game-viewing experience for me. I hope that with wins, the gameday atmosphere will recover. But all the stoppages drain the energy out of the game and it HAS to be reformed, somehow. It's got to change, or the game's going to die.

Another thing I noted is that there's a LOT of gray hair in the stands. The average UVa football game attendee is not a young person, outside of the student section. Seems like a lot of people who got in the habit of going to games under Welsh are still there, but behind them is a demographic void of alumni and non-existent fans who lost interest in UVa football from 2005-2015. We need to start winning, SOON, and we need to make a greater effort to engage recent alums in attending. One way to do that would be to lower prices. When you have 20,000 seats empty for UNC on a beautiful day, it's time to cut prices.

Anyway. Just very frustrated by the continuing degradation of the average fan's gameday experience, and wondering how long it's going to be before I lose interest in CFB the same way I did the NFL. I might just start attending high school games on Friday nights. How can we exorcise these money-grubbing marketers from this sport I love?


  1. Scott Stadium is caught in a vicious cycle. They want a winning team but need high rated recruits. Recruits want a winning team in a full stadium. The team is working hard on winning and attracting recruits but many fans aren't helping. The UVA fan base does not realize they are the 12 man. If the seats are full it creates a winning vibe which supports the team and attracts recruits. In short the fan base needs to realize they to are playing to the unsuccessfulness of the team. They need to do their part and fill Scott. - MK-

    1. Chicken or egg, right? I feel like the administration needs to take serious steps (lower ticket prices, improve the gameday atmosphere via increased production value, etc.) to lure the fans back, and then the fans need to take the extra step to embrace the changes.

  2. "It was awful. I was absolutely bored and found myself wishing I wasn't there. And I'm an alum and kind of an uber-fan, at a game with two fairly exciting, fast-paced offenses."

    This is exactly how I felt. I think it started sometime in the second quarter for me. I don't know why, we were still in the game but I just didn't want to be there anymore. Maybe the constant losing has taken it's toll.

    I'm a Fontaine lot regular and that lot was actually more active but that was probably due to the JPJ lot being closed and the reduced availability of spaces at Fontaine. I think that lot for the CMU game was one of the smallest I've seen in a long time.

    That's an interesting point about the bluehairs. I see the same thing about classical music performances. Once this generation is gone what's going to prop up these types of things? I think winning will change things but we're a long way off from that if that somehow happens.

    Some things about the gameday experience: concessions suck, lines are long and staffed by apathetic workers. The piped-in music is horrible (get rid of it). The entrance of the team is awful.

    1. I also agree and is there any way the band could get some new stuff?

  3. You have to find a way to bring back top talent, find a way to do more with less. Clemson, Michigan, Utah, Louisville are all finding away to win. To fill the stands, you have to find away to encourage the fan base. Winning has a lot to do with it but it takes time. Remember how long it took Tony Bennett? It was not over night, I bleed orange and blue. I may get disappointed or upset but I stay a fan. Wahoo-wa.

  4. Saturday was my first game in several years. It was...depressing. Bronco doesn't seem to be getting a new coach "bounce" in attendance. Doesn't help that the team isn't good. And one of my alum friends mentioned that students only go for a half these days to earn points toward the basketball lottery. Can't say I blame them.