Author: Zach Epstein
I’ve been going to Badger football games for as long as I can remember. I wanted to be a Badger my whole life, and now that my time here is almost over I thought I would give my honest opinion of the student section. Every year, fans of Wisconsin football will talk and complain about the student section. We show up late, leave early, and chant obscenities at each other. Honestly, I am embarrassed by our student section’s actions on game day.
Students, like it or not, are the catalysts behind the noise level in the stadium. Sure, the team can blast pump-up music on third down, but students provide noise the rest of the time. We need to be loud when the Badgers are on defense and quiet when they are on offense. I’ve noticed a few of you still do not understand that. We can’t provide a dominant homefield advantage when we are missing half of the student section.
As a student I understand the eagerness to party with friends celebrating the conclusion of another challenging week of school. Being a college student can be incredibly difficult at times. We have to balance classes, homework, workouts, socializing, student orgs, group projects, jobs, the list goes on and on. Managing our busy schedules can take a huge toll on our bodies and stress levels. Why shouldn’t we get seven Saturdays a year to unwind and be with our friends doing things that are fun? That’s (part of) the college experience! Our generation is more interested in finding the best experience. Let’s face it, tailgating with friends on football Saturday is more fun that sitting at the stadium.
The experience of sitting inside Camp Randall just doesn’t compare; all you get are overpriced concessions, clean music, and cold temperatures. Why would a stereotypical college student want to endure that when they can be out tailgating? Tailgates often include music, food, beverages, friends, and (depending on the weather) an indoor environment. Have fun before the game, but try to get to your seat by kickoff.
The biggest challenge the team and athletic department is facing is getting students to the games before kickoff. I am not solely blaming this on the students. Both the athletic department and students are to blame for the issues with our student section. The student entry point into the stadium gets congested right around kickoff. That is on the athletic department and stadium operations for being unprepared. They should expect a large quantity of students to show up just on time for the game. I couldn’t tell you how that issue should be fixed, but students should be aware of the congestion and plan accordingly.
One thing that other schools have done to alleviate their tardy student section is selling alcohol at games. The problem is that these drinks will still come with a concessions price. Another option I’ve seen at some arenas is to offer “happy hour” specials on food and drinks before the game at concession stands. This gives fans an incentive to get to the stadium early for cheaper concession options.
There are many ways to fix the problem. The problem is the lack of dialogue between the athletic department and the students. The experience in the stadium won’t get better without our input. Without the dialogue, we are stuck in the cycle of late arrival and students being blamed.