If I had the money and time to drive 5 hours every weekend, I'd definitely be in the stands watching my team. Yep, I will take a nice HD picture and a bathroom that isn't share with a crowd of people who don't fundamentally understand how to use a bathroom without making a filthy mess, but would happily trade it all if someone shoved a handful of cash and said, "Tickets and gas, covered!"
As ticket sales slow for most sporting events across the country, the goal for schools, conferences and leagues is to make actually going to games a worthwhile experience. Prices for tickets, concessions and parking have soared in recent years. Unfortunately, a global downturn in the economy made those higher prices seem downright ridiculous. And that downturn hit at about the same time college conferences — led by the SEC — climbed into bed with that ol’ devil television.
The result? Many people have chosen to stay home and enjoy a wide variety of football games — as well as their own favorite school’s contest — in the comfort of their living rooms with nice, big HD television sets staring them back in the face. There are more games on television in a weekend now than there were in entire seasons 30 years ago. Think about that for a second.
So why fight the crowds, pay the cash, and squeeze your rump into a tiny metal bleacher seat when the networks will bring your game (and more) to you? With closer looks and more replays? And no drunk guy next to you tossing his cookies on your shoes.
Schools and conferences know this, of course. Pro teams and leagues know this, too. It’s one reason Jerry Jones’ Cowboys Stadium features a video board that’s sixty yards long and a field-level club through which his team enters the playing field. In a word — Entertainment!
Fans want more for their money.
For that reason, the SEC announced yesterday that it will change its in-game replay policy to allow even controversial calls to be shown and re-shown on in-stadium video boards. The NFL announced a similar policy change just weeks ago. According to Mike Slive via statement:
“The change in policy will allow our fans to see more of the action, including great plays and close calls. Fans in the stadium now can see many of the same views seen by fans watching on television. This should add to the overall game experience for fans inside our stadiums.”
The only thing missing from that statement was a line saying, “Please, please buy some tickets.”
During official reviews, the updated policy will allow stadium boards to show replays from the television network broadcasting a game. So while an official in the pressbox is using replays to reverse or uphold a controversial call on the field, the guy in Section ZZ can watch many of the same angles.
Under the old plan, the stadium video crews could show but one, real-time replay of a play. Period. No more.
And the SEC isn’t alone in trying to change the way it does business. The Big XII is also making a change to its policy, allowing a replay to be shown up to three times. Same goal, different way of reaching it.
Now, are these replay policy changes enough to prod Joe Fan from his recliner to his nearest college football stadium? Probably not. But it’s at least a step in the right direction.
The only certainty to come of all of this is that officials’ calls will be booed like never before. No one’s ever heard a home crowd react to a call that’s gone against their team by yelling, “Good call, Ref, now we see why you made it.” That won’t happen. Regardless of what the replays show, the reaction will be the same. “We got jobbed!”
Fans will now just be able to see more evidence of exactly how they got jobbed.