Archive For The “Fans” Category
It honestly felt like a day from another era out there on Saturday – in a good way.
In a world of bitter political debates, supposedly declining college football attendance, alleged tensions between the generations and the ongoing charges increasing collegian apathy, there it was: the official attendance total of the Colgate/Lehigh game of 9,255.
There were a multitude of reasons why people wanted to go see the game. Perhaps it was something good to do with the family on Family Weekend. Maybe it was a concerted effort to get students into the games, and keep them there, with new policies and new promotions. Maybe it was a thumb-your-nose effort at the fans who come for cocktails but don’t go enjoy the game. Maybe it was individuals, all as a unit, wanting to come out and see if this high-flying, record-setting Lehigh football team is for real.
Or maybe it was all of them; I have no idea, but I know it required a whole lot of planning and a huge amount of effort from a whole lot of people, and I’m glad they did.
Because it felt like something special was brewing in Bethlehem – and not just from the team making everyone pay attention to them on Saturday. It was the whole thing – the team, the fans, and the atmosphere. On Saturday, for the first time in a long time, it felt like “it” was back.
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You don’t have to have attended more than twenty-five years of Lehigh football games to know it’s a completely different world out there for your friendly neighborhood sports fan.
When Lehigh’s Murray Goodman Stadium was opened in 1988, there were only about a dozen channels on the small, eighteen inch black and white TV we had in our dorm room. Only two channels might have had “major college football” games on at the same time a Lehigh football game was being played live over the mountain. (Notre Dame, the only school who had all their games televised, almost always played their games at 3:30 PM.)
Nowadays there’s way more entertainment options on a typical college weekend than ever, and it’s very logical to think that the increased amount of competition might not just keep students away from attending football games, but local fans as well.
It’s not an issue confined to Lehigh – in 2014, home attendance at all FBS games dropped to their lowest levels in fourteen years. As student options have increased across the country, home attendance has decreased.
It’s a question worth asking at a school like Lehigh – how to get fans to the games, and keep them coming back?
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It wasn’t a typical Lehigh weekend for me as I headed to Murray Goodman.
With my family, including my mother and father visiting Murray Goodman stadium for the first time in a long time, I spent most of the game experiencing most of the game in a place where I haven’t been in a while: the “stands”.
When you cover a team, it’s a bit too easy sometimes to take refuge in the press box, hermetically sealed from the rest of the fans out in the fresh air. Too often, too, that’s what I do: plop in the press box, not to emerge until after the clock reads zero.
This time around, though, I had the incredible experience once again to enjoy most of the game in the stands, thanks to my family, and it couldn’t have been a better one, thanks to the best efforts of the other fans.
The picture above was taken on my phone, from where I was sitting on Saturday.
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