Image courtesy of goingprosportsblog

Wisconsin Football Student Fans: We Can Do Better by Jordan Schwam

This article comes only a few days before Wisconsin Badgers football student tickets go on sale on Monday, June 15, at 7:30 AM CDT. Alabama tickets (in Dallas for September 4) can be purchased following your purchase of student tickets as you will be prompted whether or not you want the extra $50 tickets (up to two tickets per student).

Let me begin by saying, as a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I experienced a wide gamut of success from the Wisconsin Badgers on-and-off the field and this article comes from strict personal observation. In all my journalistic prowess, I could have conducted student interviews or released surveys, but I hope you have the faith to believe what I am about to say.

The Badger football team made it to the pinnacle of college football (pre-BCS tournament) in the form of two straight Rose Bowls thanks to the excellence of NFL superstar and Super Bowl winning quarterback Russell Wilson as well as NCAA record-breaker Montee Ball. Although the team lost both those games as well as the first before my admission to the school, those triumphs put Wisconsin Football onto the national scene.

This scene will potentially reach a newfound apex as the Badgers open up the 2015 season against arguably the best program in college football in the Alabama Crimson Tide. It is a matchup sandwiched between SEC counterpart LSU who will face the Badgers again in 2016 at Lambeau Field. The fixture against Alabama will no doubt shine an extremely bright spotlight on this program, as it will be played at AT&T Stadium in Dallas. Currently, 30 players from Wisconsin play up in the next level, good for just outside the top 10 among FBS schools and you can be sure that they are quality. Wisconsin ranks as the smartest football program in the country, even driving out their former head coach Gary Andersen due to rigorous academic recruiting standards. So, despite what many say about the cakewalk schedule that represents the Big 10 and the lack of schedule strength that comes with it, the Badgers will soon be up against the best of the best on a lavishly grand stage in an effort to go 2-0 in their last two games against SEC opponents.

So, does this sound like a team and a program that people should be excited to see? Should these consistent yearly feats warrant a devoted and excited fanbase? In my opinion, these questions should both be answered in the affirmative. In my four years, I approached  being a Badger football fan in vastly different ways. In 2011, during one of our best offensive seasons in recent memory, I imbibed alcoholic beverages excessively prior to each game. As many do in Madison on Saturday mornings, the game becomes second fiddle to how sick the pregame is going to be. The goal for many becomes, “how inebriated can we get so we can arrive by like the beginning of the second quarter? The game will probably be over by then anyways.” So there I was along with thousands of my peers, arriving late, getting in the stands to socialize, and leaving after Jump Around at the famous end of the third quarter.

My eyes really opened wide in 2013, as I not only didn’t go to games, but I stayed sober and watched the team play at home on television, an event that many would never choose to do. There were many instances when the bottom-rung 11 AM ESPN2 announcers would crack jokes as the camera panned to the half-empty student section at the end of the first quarter: “You know those cold Wisconsin mornings. Those students are just taking their time to put another jacket on” [Other announcer awkwardly chuckles and agrees]. Then, also later in games, the broadcast teams extensively discuss Jump Around as an incredible college tradition and are shown going absolutely crazy during the event like they have never physically jumped before. This enjoyable time is the preface of student exodus, which announcers excuse for some reason or another.

Finally in 2014, I worked at Camp Randall as an usher for every home game. Here I witnessed the travesty of my peers firsthand. I was there experiencing warmups and watching the stadium fill up with excitement from all sides of Camp Randall’s bowl but one. The late arrivals and early departures never ceased and, as part of my job, watched just the few closest rows of the student sections stay for one of the most fun and joyous events of a Badger football game: the Fifth Quarter. calls it a time for fans to “stay to watch, sing, dance, and enjoy the excitement of a latter-day Wisconsin tradition.” I had never stayed for a Fifth Quarter, and it was wonderful. Happiness of a probable home victory carries over in to music and dancing and fun and yet so few students gave themselves the privilege of attending.

The Wisconsin band during the Fifth Quarter with a barren student section (via UW-Madison).
So Badger fans, I implore you to make some changes this year. Treat this team and program as one reflective of their aforementioned accolades. Drink before games like normal college kids, but don’t make an effort to miss as much of the game as possible. The social aspect of games as fans is one of high priority, but try to make an effort to embrace the collection of talented events occurring on the green grass in front of you. If only once, please stay for the Fifth Quarter. It was truly embarrassing to watch so few of my fellow classmates stay and embrace such a pleasant and heartwarming tradition. Take up an investment in the team. Make an effort to become familiar with the next round of talent that will be gracing the field with their presence this year. Up next in line at Running Back U is Corey Clement who will finally be getting the lion’s share of carries. Granted, this will be his junior season and he already has run the ball 214 times, but I will give a pass to those who haven’t put in the effort to familiarize themselves with him yet.

Anyway, I hope you get the points I am trying to get across. Too often our incredible program is not treated by fans the way it should and it deserves better.

With that, On Wisconsin.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

Gravatar Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s