This year, I decided to go the Nebraska Spring game on a whim. Not checking the weather before I left home, I’m grateful I keep my rain poncho in the car.
While I feel like I’ve outgrown going to the Huskers’ annual glorified practice/recruiting tool, I thought, “hey, why not try to sit in one of the sky boxes?” I found a guy selling a ticket to a club seat from which I could easily get away from the rain. Mission accomplished.
For me, the worst part about the game being canceled was spending seven dollars on a pork sandwich before they started giving away food, so I didn’t have a good reason to rush to the concession stands among a bunch of 11-year-olds.
However, the termination of the spring game made me wonder. If this was the 2008 spring game (Pelini’s first year when 80,000 people showed up), how would a cancellation have gone over?
Ironically, that spring game turned out to be such a sunny day, my dad had to buy a baseball hat to keep his bald head from getting sunburned. My memory of that day was that it was the most pretentious production I’d ever seen.
First, we had to get there early and wait outside the stadium for it to open. Then we had to make a mad dash to get good seats, settling for two in the north end zone forty rows up with our backs to the aisle (if only all the seats would have been assigned that year).
When the game finally began, Pelini was out on the field with his assistants in the offensive backfield, calling the signs to defense, the players clunking to the line of scrimmage as if they truly expected their new head coach to call someone out in front of the 80,000 on hand.
Sadly, such a scene would have made all the trouble I went to worth it.
From an entertainment perspective, that game deserved to be canceled. Good spring games should be played at a faster pace to see how much the players have learned during the spring and to make it exciting for fans.
If that game had been rained out, fans wouldn’t have known that and sour moods would have prevailed. It was going to be a first glimpse at the work of this prodigy coach and for the first time in several years, the high expectations of Husker fans felt justified.
Some in attendance paid more than $100 in the secondary market for tickets, and I’m sure some bad words and/or behavior would have emerged as fans filed out of the stadium while pulling the long sleeves of their ponchos over their hands and fighting for spaces of relief under doorways.
All this does is call into question the overall relevancy of spring games, whether or not athletic departments across the country are hosing fans and if fans should actually care about them at all.
From the athletic department’s view, I can’t blame them.
They’re not charging outrageous ticket prices and besides, this is one of the few days a year they have a chance to make money. They are just responding to the demand for college football.
Think of it this way: Tom Osborne and the Nebraska athletic department are asking you to make a yearly donation of ten dollars. As a thank you, you get tickets to a scrimmage.
When I think of it that way, it doesn’t bother me that my tickets ended up being worth a glimpse at club seating complete with a slice of pizza and a hot dog.
Spring games are a day for fans to play make-believe while watching the facade of a game.
Make-believe it’s fall, make-believe that a reserve running back or just make-believe to get out of going to the wedding of an annoying relative. That was my motivation for going – getting a seat I couldn’t ordinarily afford to pretend I was watching Wisconsin-Nebraska from club seats this fall.
After all, Nebraska’s uniforms look just about like Wisconsin’s, don’t they?