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Get Ready For More Canned Music At SEC Football Games

woman-covering-earsOver the past couple of seasons a number of college football stadiums have cut down on in-game band performances in order to crank up rock, rap and country music during timeouts.  Not all fans have been fond of the move to bring in gameday DJs.

Those fans won’t be happy about a change that will lead to more piped in music this fall.

According to Georgia AD Greg McGarity, the Southeastern Conference has decided to relax its rules regarding sound and music being played in between plays:

 

“If you need to get people revved up for a big third-down play, you can do that.  You could always do it with your band, but now you can do it any way you want to.  You still have to stop once the quarterback gets over the ball, gets under the center or in the shotgun…

They were able to do things in the ACC that we were not in the SEC.  The rules have changed now for 2014 where we’re able to utilize songs and music up until the point when the quarterback gets over the ball.  That’s a big change in the in-game atmosphere.”

 

So what was behind this move?  Well, McGarity is on an SEC panel charged with improving the gameday atmosphere for fans… in order to fend off the attendance declines experienced nationwide since the advent of HDTV and the explosion in the number of televised games.  ”Those of us who saw what it did at Clemson, it energized their fanbase with certain songs.”

We believe there’s another angle at play here, too — recruiting.  Each year, more schools are tossing out tradition in favor of mix-and-match uniforms that utilize black, gray, all-white and pink color schemes, to name a few.  Teenagers like bizarro uniforms, so coaches and schools trot out bizarro uniforms.  Now what do you think teenaged recruits would prefer on gameday — a fight song played by a live band or a blaring hip-hop beat or a heavy metal riff?  Our money’s on the beat or the riff.

For SEC traditionalists — meaning: older fans — the news that piped-in music will be used in between plays likely won’t be met with much joy.  But if the changes help to lure in recruits and fill the student sections once more — areas that are home to tomorrow’s donors and boosters — the old-timers will just have to hold their ears.

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Final SEC Spring Game Attendance Numbers Are Out

gfx - by the numbersWith 14 SEC spring games now in the books, we can begin perusing the attendance numbers for each program.  Is this a fair comparison of overall interest in a program?  No.  Florida announced early that it would be conducting nothing more than an open practice session and its attendance suffered accordingly.  Auburn had the added draw of the final roll of the oaks at Toomer’s Corner and that spiked attendance on the Plains.  Schools with new coaches — Auburn, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Arkansas — all saw their attendance numbers jump a bit over last year’s attendance, which was to be expected.

Also these numbers are usually nothing more than stab-in-the-dark estimates.  And stab-in-the-dark estimates released by a school are usually spun to make gains look as big as possible and decreases appear as small as possible.

All that said, below are this year’s spring game attendance numbers from around the SEC.  We’ve also included last year’s attendance for comparison:

 

  School   2013 Attendance   2012 Attendance   Yr-Yr Change
  Auburn   83,401   43,427   + 39,974
  Alabama   78,315   78,526   – 211
  Tennessee   61,706   35,421   + 26,285
  Arkansas   51,088   45,250   + 5,838
  Kentucky   50,831   4,500   + 46,331
  Texas A&M   45,212   15,000   + 30,212
  Georgia   45,113   44,117   + 996
  S. Carolina   35,218   34,513   + 705
  LSU   28,000   33,000   – 5,000
  Ole Miss   28,000   25,000   + 3,000
  Miss. State   21,000   22,604   – 1,604
  Missouri   18,384   18,614   – 230
  Vanderbilt   14,000   8,500   + 5,500
  Florida   10,000   38,100   – 28,100
  SEC Average   40,733   31,899   + 8,834

 

Again, knowing that the SEC average of 40,733 is a ballpark number, let’s compare it to attendance across the nation for actual football games in 2012.  According to the NCAA data, the average attendance for the 763 games played by the 120 FBS schools last year was 44,970.  Meaning the average attendance for a spring game in the SEC was within about 5,000 people — give or take — of the average attendance for all regular-season football games across the country last year.

Keep in mind, too, that the SEC led the nation in average attendance last year with a number of 75,538.  Take away the SEC’s regular-season numbers and the overall FBS number drops… meaning that SEC fans are more interested in spring football than many other fans across the nation are interested in actual, meaningful football in the fall.

Even more interesting — and this says something about the power of bowls to draw crowds in the HDTV age — is the fact that last year’s average bowl game attendance came in at just 49,224.  (You can also bet that those numbers were inflated.)  In other words, SEC spring games on average drew within 10,000 people of an average bowl game played last season.

We say it every year, but no fans in the country care as much about college football as those of the Southeastern Conference region.  Credit the weather or fewer professional franchises, if you like, but the bottom line is — spring or fall, SEC fans turn out for anything involving a pigskin.

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Video Killed The Radio Star — How HDTV Revolutionized Kentucky Broadcast Sports

Kentucky
Content provided by A Sea Of Blue.

This is the first in a series of three sponsored posts by Samsung Electronics Company.

Think about the first time you saw a High-Definition television picture.  I remember where I was exactly.  It was in Las Vegas at the National Association of Broadcaster’s convention, 1993, the year of the Grand Alliance.

When I had begun reading about HD TV and the HD standard (I was a purchasing agent for television equipment and parts at the time) I had never really imagined that it would be that big a deal.  I have lived through years with no television, through black and white TV and the transition to color, and the television picture had not changed in terms of picture quality very much since I was a teenager.  I knew how TV worked, and even though I was aware of the cutting edge, it was all about digital effects, and less about picture delivery, except for what seemed to me to be a bunch of dreamers. 1080 lines, indeed, I scoffed.  Where would you get the bandwidth?  Compression?  At the time, compression was a joke.

Then I saw what HD television really meant, and I was in awe.

I had never seen a picture like that.  At first, I thought it was fake — a video monitor frame around a picture or something.  It was like looking through a window, and the clarity and sharpness were breathtaking.  I couldn’t wait to see the first commercially-viable HDTV sets.  But as it turned out, I had to wait a long time.

This is not about the history of HDTV, it’s about how that particular technology makes a difference in the way I view sports, in particular, Kentucky sports.  I know most of you remember watching grainy pictures of Wildcat basketball where the only way you could identify the players was practically by memorizing their body types and haircuts.  It was like looking at the game through glass made in the 1800′s almost, and then there was that constant picture roll or squiggle you had to adjust constantly in order to keep the frame centered. 

I can remember times when it was almost more enjoyable to listen to Cawood’s dulcet tones on the radio than to watch it on TV.  Somehow, the mental picture I could generate seemed more real, more inspiring, than what the television could deliver.  “Moving from left to right on your radio dial” focused the mind on a visual, not just aural response, and the most flexible display in the known universe is driven by the human imagination.

But as TV got better, and with the advent of cable delivery that helped smooth out the over-the-air interference and constant picture adjustments of the pure broadcast age, we entered a kind of “golden age” of color TV when we could sit around, sip a few beers, watch the game and see most of what was going on, at least within the scope of the camera lens.

As technology marched on and things like instant replay, improved camera lenses, digital picture processing and digital delivery became a reality, the image on the screen began to sharpen a bit, and clear up even more, but it was still the same old 525-line NTSC picture.  As television sets got bigger and brighter, the image reached the point at which making the screen bigger produced diminishing returns.  So we got used to watching the Wildcats in sports bars without really being able to see who was playing until the camera zoomed in on them.   At home, things were better, but the limits of the existing picture delivery had been reached.

And then came HDTV.  I remember watching some sports broadcasts on HTDV in bars and restaurants before I had my own set, and wow, what a difference that made.  There were still some flaws — most of the sets were LCD, and tended to blur a bit during fast motion events, but it was so superior to standard NTSC that there was simply no comparison.  Once you saw a sports broadcast on an HDTV set, you never wanted to go back to standard 525-line NTSC. Ever.

Now, HDTV is the norm, and as that technology improves, watching the Wildcats on television has become a very reasonable facsimile of being there.  You can see the grass blades on the football field, the boards on the basketball floor, the players in all their glory playing the games we love to watch.  More than any other recent innovation save the personal computer, HDTV has massively improved the pleasure I get from the experience of Kentucky sports away from the venue itself.  I get upset whenever I have to watch a picture in standard definition — I have become that addicted to the improved picture quality and aspect ratio.

Gone are the days of grainy, fuzzy picture, replaced now by a remarkable sharpness that, thinking back, is something I still have not been able to take for granted.  To me, that is a measure of how much something is better.  The things that are only a little better we come to take for granted very quickly, but the the order-of-magnitude improvements amaze us even years after they become everyday.  HDTV is like that for me.

So now it’s your turn.  How do you feel about the effect of HDTV on Kentucky sports, or sports in general?


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