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A Hokie Student Snapshot of Being a Fan in Blacksburg

Something a bit different than the usual grind of producing articles about sports teams. Gobbler Country enlists some student help to ask a few questions of a small sample of Hokies just to see what they've done for the past several games, and are they making the big trip to Bristol next season.

Arriving at Lane for a game at the same time the storm showed up
Arriving at Lane for a game at the same time the storm showed up
Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Well, we all live in our own bubbles, and often those bubbles don't cross or intersect.  I was talking with my daughter who is a sophomore Multimedia Journalism major about how things are going on campus in regard to the sports programs.  She has student section season tickets to the football games, and has been to a basketball game or two over the years.  Kids did show up for games, but she also noticed the streams of people headed out at halftime last season.  I had season tickets last year, too.

We talked about it a bit, and then I came up with a list of questions that she could ask some of her school mates to see if we could find a temperature level about the program.  It wasn't some sort of quantitative survey, we really were only interested in asking some questions to look at what some students think of the games, Game Day, and the events to come.

Kat got her questions in order and went on a little beat assignment for her Dad.  We were also trying to keep things fairly anonymous so that kids will be honest.  So first, here are the questions and the follow-ups that that she asked (remember this isn't a huge sample, just people from her classes, those who she had time to ask the questions):

  1. Did you go to the Pitt game?  If not why?  If so did you stay for the whole game?
  2. Are you going to the NC State game?  If not why?  If so are you going to stay win or lose?
  3. Do you always get season tickets and if you do are you planning on buying them next season.
  4. Are you going to the Tennessee game at Bristol Motor Speedway?

The first person to answer the questions was a female sophomore; she didn't go to the Pitt Game and her reasons were quite practical.  "I woke up at 11 a.m. and did not have a poncho for the bad weather."   Yes, she was planning on going to the NC State game but might have to work.  She also usually leaves during the final quarter to avoid the crowds.  She does buy season tickets and is "hopefully" going to continue.  Finally, no, she isn't going to see Tennessee.  She doesn't have the money for the Bristol game; gas or the ticket.

The next two people that Kat talked to are a couple who are both sophomores.   They went to the Pitt game, but didn't stay.  They left early to "beat the crowd for food, after".  They were a bit cagy about the NC State game, they were going but sticking around was dependent on both the weather and the score.  They ended the questions with, "[w]e have season tickets and plan on getting them next year. But we aren't going to Bristol game."

Then there was a pair of people who obviously work the games, a junior female and a sophomore male who both gave the exact same answers.  "Yes, I worked on the sidelines.  I would have stayed the whole time anyway."  " Yes. I'm working it again."  "I always get season tickets" (Hum... so you need to buy them to work the game or something else?  Maybe it would have been interesting to ask about that one.)  Both hoped to get a chance to work Tennessee game; but planned on going even if they didn't.

Next up was a female junior who would love to see the games but just for the show at the beginning; but she works at a local hotel, and hasn't attended the games to date.  "I'm not as big into football" was how she put it.  She had to work during the NC State game, and after the OSU game just sells her tickets when she can't go.  She isn't planning on buying season tickets next season, but might go to the Bristol game for a campus publication.

A final female sophomore said that, "[n]o, the weather was going to be too bad for me to watch us lose in.  The NC State game was on the calendar because, "[n]ight games are always the best. I always leave early to beat the crowds unless the game is really intense." (I sure hope she got to stay for Friday's finale).  She's still going to continue to buy season tickets because "[e]ven if we lose, the games are still fun and worth going to."  And as to the Bristol game she'd really like to but wasn't sure about the money or transportation.

Kat ended the interviews with a touch of a different cultural perspective.  She talked to a foreign exchange student who is studying at tech.  She's from one of those northern lights ice and snow sort of places (funny she probably thinks Blacksburg is balmy) but this young junior went to the Pitt game in the President's box, and stayed for the whole game (I would, too.  Been in the President's Box.. It's more like the President's viewing Palace.)   She forgot to sign up for lottery this year, but has for other years; but never buys the tickets.  (If you get invited to the President's box, why buy tickets?)  She didn't answer about the Bristol game but it's nice knowing that she likes the school and is having fun, here.

So how does all of that stack up?  It's only anecdotal, and by no means exhaustive, but it is a fun thing to do occasionally.  Ask people from outside of your circle of friends and associates what they do and what they plan on doing.  You can see several motivations for going or not going.  Most folks asked if given a reason stick around for most of the game.  And they do like going to games - but interest and excitement are definitely motivators.

Football Games are a product.  Part of the marketing is the actual game, and the compelling story that winning and effort generates.  By the way, my daughter, Kat, had to leave the NC State game because her ride back to her apartment complex was picking her up early.  She missed the 3rd quarter McMillian sweep into the end zone and was sorry to have missed it, but she sure made it to the game like so many other loyal Hokie fans do.  It's a great tradition that breathes life outside of the hard work of studying to campus life at Virginia Tech.

Next weekend Game Day will be in Miami, and the campus will be quiet for a change waiting patiently for the roaring crowd to start the chant "LET'S GO!!!  HOKIES!!!!" once again.