Staff Roundtable: With Sellout Streak Over, Will VT Fall Victim To The Nationwide Trend Of Fans Staying Home?

Grant Halverson

Everyone's heart is in the right place, but is that enough to get the fans' to leave the creature comforts of home on Saturdays?

Editor's Note: This week, ESPN put out this article about the degradation of student attendance at major college football games, and like VT, the schools referenced in their article have on-campus stadiums. We thought it relevant to throw a little conversation piece out there for everyone to chime in on. Please use the comments section below to be heard on this issue. You never know who might be checking up on us... *cough Mr Babcock cough*. Thanks for reading.


Justin Cates (That Guy Who Does All The Historical Comparisons)

There's plenty to be said for the in person game day experience. The sights, smells and sounds are always different and something that can't be recreated from the comfort of your couch. From an observer's perspective television doesn't compare to what you can see from high up in the East stands. You can watch plays develop in a way that television can never show as the medium focuses entirely on the quarterback and the lines battling in front of him. In person you can watch the receivers routes develop and instantly get a sense of the height and difficulty of a throw as it sails down field. At home, you're lucky to get half of that on replay. In spite of how much I love it, living out of state I find myself only getting back for one game a year at this point. Instead, I set up shop in my "War Room" with a bottle of bourbon and the television, laptop plus a handful of other electronic devices buzzing away with live stats and video feeds on the Hokies and everyone else in action around the country. It's not Lane Stadium, but then there aren't lines for the bathroom either.

Ricky the Dragon 316  (Recruiting Guru/Village Chieftain)

Early on after graduation, I watched Tech football almost exclusively from my season ticket location in Lane Stadium and at least half of the road games I attended in person. When it came to watching at home, it usually consisted of me watching completely alone or with a very few select fellow Hokie alums or family. Why you say?

So that I can freely curse like a sailor (at Glennon and Stiney) and not have to mind the "Hokies Respect" mantra.  Also, there will always be a few trolls out at bars and I was not mature enough to handle someone talking trash, look the other way and continue to watch. So I avoided that potential situation completely.

The only real superstition I had was wearing my #3 Bryan Randall, Ike Whitaker, Logan Thomas jersey during games. That ended after Danny Coale's catch was inexplicably overturned.

John Leonard (Baseball Beat Writer Extraordinaire and Hockey Lunatic)

Call me a bad fan, but I like to enjoy the game at home on a nice TV with family and friends and a bag of Lay's original (because they are the best). A few years ago I would have said at Lane in the South end zone but I don't enjoy games there as much as I have in the past. Plus at home you can catch all the little details and there's no three year olds kicking me in the back of the head. I also like having the option of muting the tv and turning on some Bill Roth on the radio when the commentators get too annoying.

Flyers13 (Bumbling Managing Editor)

When I was in school I missed A home game. Slept right thru Marvin Graves and Syracuse in 1993, and I'll never forgive myself. I don't get to Blacksburg much these days with a young child complicating matters, but as she grows, I hope to make it back a few times a year with her. That is going to be the next phase of Hokie joy: bringing my daughter, and I look forward to it.

I can totally understand why people stay home. I refuse to go to NFL games for exactly that reason, because I have no vested interest in any one NFL team. It's far better watching things you don't care about from home, there isn't a commitment involved. But when I'm in Lane for a game, I am happy to just get score updates and wait for the wrap show at the bar (hopefully celebrating the win). You just can't replicate the environment at Lane, with the fall colors and the general high you get from the collective good mood of everyone around you. I am able to forgo the oppressive ADHD that dominates football fandom with the need for access, access, IMMEDIATE access; and just enjoy all eight of my senses at once.

I love the tailgates my friends throw, but I'll be honest: Besides bringing a case of beer and a bucket of chicken, I'm simple. I'm never gonna be the trailer hitch/barbecue pit guy. But I do enjoy a nice robust tailgate spread for before and after, and I am always in favor of walking downtown to one of Main Street's traditional spots like PKs, Champs, or Sharkeys to start the evening off (I love the 3:30 start times). Unfortunately though, the hotels gouge the fans into paying for two nights each stay, so more of the recent visits have been abbreviated day trips with little time to enjoy my former "home away from home."

Seriously, why are hotels so insecure that they can't offer one night reservations? Some people will want to stay Friday, others will stay Saturday....I am sure they will all sell out. Might be my single largest gripe about the system.

Finally, the ESPN article worries me about sports in general, pro or college. With technology better, attention spans shorter, gas more expensive, there is no putting the genie back in the bottle. Attendance is going to take a hit. There were blackout laws forever to combat this, but those are being relaxed more and more because TV contract revenues outweigh the ticket revenues. There is no incentive or threat anymore, and I'm not sure it would matter; because there's always a game to watch on TV, even if they screw you out of yours.  I'm hoping we can maintain our efforts as a fan-base, because the only thing sadder than losing the games at an unhealthy rate would be losing them in front of a 2/3 capacity crowd that's more interested in tweeting and getting back to the party than the game at hand. If the crowd isn't roaring on the TV, that diminishes your experience at home as well, does it not?

Gifted Idiot (Mother, Teacher, Coach, X's and O's Maven, General Credit to the Species)

A few years back, I was pretty superstitious with my Vince Hall jersey, same pants, same seat, etc. These days my falls are extremely hectic, as I coach high school football. After Friday night games, we have meetings and film breakdown on Saturday mornings; so, getting down to Blacksburg for a game hasn't happened in quite a few years for me. I do watch VT games, but only at the house, as we've got a little tiny Hokie. Honestly, the offensive design and/or execution has been so terrible the past two seasons that, for the sake of the health of the family TV, I don't usually make it through a full game anymore, win or lose.

James M (The Sunday Shadow and Host of this Round-Table)

Usually I prefer to be amongst all my friends while I watch the Hokies, all 60 some thousand of them. Nothing beats the atmosphere in Blacksburg on gameday. I love the smell and sounds of hot food on the grill and being with other fans. But over the years I've come to realize that I do miss a lot by watching from the stands. People always try to chat with me and I become distracted easily. I'd much rather watch from home on my couch with a few friends over, remote by my side, cold drink in hand, and a pizza on the table. I can curse all I want and yell without people staring. This is my favorite way. I graduate in May, But I will be returning for my fair share of football games because there really is nothing quite like being surrounded by complete strangers, coming together as one, and feeling like you know them.

We enjoy doing these roundtables for you folks, and hope to hear from you in the comments below. Believe us, no superstition is too crazy!

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