In my earlier years, any time I received a phone call and the voice on the other end of line said, “You want to go to the Auburn game this weekend?” my quick response, without a doubt, was always “Heck yeah!"
But now when that call comes, I hesitate and think to myself before answering, “To go to the game, or not go to the game, that is the question."
There is no doubt that Auburn, Alabama on a football game day is one of the best places on earth. The day starts out slowly, like an early morning walk around downtown, but builds feverishly with all of the activities that lead up to the game. The sights and the sounds of the campus as you walk to the game are both relaxing and electrifying. The little kids throwing the football, the food, the TVs with the early games on and the boom boxes fill the air with sound.
So why the hesitation, why not the usual quick response to go? Well, after going to games for 35 years now, there are other things to consider.
First of all, cost. If you don’t want to go to a non-conference snoozer, you better be ready to pony up some bucks, either paying for the right to buy tickets and then paying $60 a ticket, or paying a lot more for that from a scalper. It is a fact of life driven by market demand, so you have to deal with it. Also, have you seen the price of gas lately?
So let’s say that you go ahead and decide to pay the price of admission, what about the stadium experience?
While I am not a big band person, I think the band has really gotten better over the past few years and is enjoyable. I like the Auburn band’s “high-energy” entrance and the songs are much better than the few years back, when they played John Phillip Sousa songs. The big screen in the end zone is phenomenal and makes up some for not having that TV instant replay at home.
So what is wrong with the stadium experience? Sadly enough, it is the fans. I guess I should say, “some” fans.
From all of the games that I have been to, the vast majority of the fans that I have sat by have been great. Just good Auburn people, cheerful, knowledgeable and just there to watch Auburn win and have a good time. But unfortunately, not all are like that.
There are the “Debbie Downers” that sit right behind you and are always cussing and criticizing the coaches and the players. Then there are the ones that don’t know football and treat the whole game like it is some kind of mixer and talk about anything and everything during the game.
Then there are fans from other teams who sit in the Auburn section! (One time, my older brother invited a girl from Florida to the Auburn-Florida game and promised that she would be cool about it and then just about got into a fight with all of the Auburn fans around us).
But worst of all, the worst fans are the ones who have to stand the entire game. Now, I am not talking about the student section. If you are in the student section, that is an entirely different story, as you expect to stand the entire time. I am talking about the alumni section or really any section other than the student section. In those sections, I believe that you should follow proper football stadium protocol and etiquette.
That means that you stand up at appropriate times, not all the time. Let’s say it is a big third down and Auburn is on defense, I firmly believe that the entire stadium should stand up and yell as loudly as they can when the opposing offense breaks the huddle. That has to pump up the D and makes it more difficult for the offense to hear.
There are other numerous times which are proper to stand up, long runs, big hits and fourth downs to name a few, but not the entire game.
One year, we sat in the upper deck on about the 20 yard line, and 20 rows up. Just two rows down were three female Auburn fans that just had to stand up the entire time. And I am not talking just during the game, we are talking prior to the game, time outs and half time. We referred to them as the “Three Amigas,” as they joined arm and arm swayed to and fro throughout the game, jumping up and down like whack-moles for the duration.
Now, I am all for everyone having a good time, but for us, anything that happened between the 40 yard lines was blacked out.
One year, we were in row two of the upper deck and the folks directly in front us in row one liked to stand up the entire time, even though they had absolutely no one in front of them. But when you can see, I do like watching the coaches on the sidelines, seeing how they interact with the players and with each other. Things that you cannot necessarily see on TV.
Not all people who like to stand are inconsiderate. If you ask them nicely to not stand all of the time, they usually all say OK and will sit down. For some new alumni, it is tough to break the habit of standing the entire game.
So after all that thinking, I do answer “Heck yeah!” in response to wanting to go to the game. After all, it is one of the greatest feelings in the world to experience leaving Jordan Hare Stadium after a victory. With the music playing and the fans chanting, “It’s great to be an Auburn Tiger!” that stroll to your post game celebration is exhilarating.