Improving the Gameday Experience

vinko bogataj

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A couple of things got me thinking about the Gopher Gameday and Gopher Fan experience recently:

1. I got the invite to the Fan Fest and saw a thread here questioning if it would be family/little kid friendly like it used to be or more family/older kid friendly like last year. Thought that piece of communication was too brief and not informative enough. (Also saw Rog post on the same thread that maybe GL could comment on what the Ladies Night really entailed - enter smart comment here). Those things got me thinking, if we here on GH, the diehards don't really know much about them, how do we expect to engage John and Jane Q Public to get involved or understand them?

2. I saw the Vikings restricted access to their players very severely at the opening of camp this fall. KARE11 did their second story of Thursday night on it. They PO'd a fair number of fans by this limited access. I told my wife that with the Gophers opening camp, they should invite the public in to greet the team.

3. I am a Twins season ticketholder (partial package) and got a call from my ticket office rep thanking me for my support and asking what if anything they should be doing better. When I gave him one very minor comment, he ended up sending me a follow-up e-mail the next day acknowledging my comment and letting me know he passed it on to some higher ups.

4. My neighbor kid who is a student at the University and last year couldn't get a season ticket was talking to me and said that he didn't think he would try to get one this year. When I asked him why, his comment was that the University made the entire process too difficult from getting tickets to getting into the stadium. He is far from a big partier, but said that the treatment the students got at the gates was Gestapo-like.

Putting these thoughts together in my mind, I started to wonder what the University could do to make the gameday experience better. Afterall, the gameday experience and connections with the school are what sustain the better and above average programs through down times.

Anyway- my point and question is what can be done to improve the gameday experience in your view (controllable ideas only, getting better kickoff times and/or winning games are not controllable)? My simple thoughts are as follows:

1. Improve the student experience. I am 40, so I am not a student obviously, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that students set the tone in the crowd. Make it easier to pass tickets amongst them, oversell the section, make entry to the stadium easier, worry less about whether they have had 6 drinks or not.

2. Ease non-student access to the stadium. As mentioned above, I have Twins season tickets and have never waited more than 1 minute to get into Target Field (been to around 15 games YTD). Further, the ticket takers and bag checkers are friendly and easy to deal with. Last year, my 72 year old dad went through a 2 minute security check. TSA is easier to clear than our guys. I know the old argument about security and getting to the stadium earlier, but fact is we don't have the luxury or pissing off our clients. Our product isn't a stand alone on its own yet and the stadiums new shine won't last forever.

3. Fix the concessions problem. Getting cash registers is a nice start. Now improve the selection. Give Campus Pizza a shot, give Kramarchuk's a shot.

4. Band and cheerleaders-march portions on the band and cheerleaders through the tailgate lots and bars. I hate Wisconsin, but the appearance of their tuba's and cheerleaders in your bar pre-game gets people jacked up. Infuse a real collegiate atmosphere not just in the stadium but around it too. We know that it will take time for this atmosphere to grow, but at least start to nurture it.

5. Tailgating scene. Get rid of the stupid time to leave post game rules and encourage people to linger. We had the UMPD tell us to leave at 3 of last season's games because of the "time rule". We weren't bothering anyone, out of control blasted (just pretty solidly blasted ;) ) or anything else. We also had stops last year making sure we didn't have any bottles or glass around (we didn't). I don't think they should lower the tailgate lot donation charge, but they should allow existing spotholders to buy single game extra spots if there are spots available in their lots. This would drive some revenue, build atmosphere and still keep large hordes of visiting fans out of the lots.

Those are 5 simple things I think that could be done with little to no effort or expense to nurture a gameday environment that can rival the great gamedays offered by our BigTen brethern. What would you do differently or recommend that the University do? Fire away.
 

dpodoll68

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Frankly, I'm surprised this has never been mentioned on the board before, but I really think they should have the band march down University Ave.
 

vinko bogataj

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Let the band march down University!;)
As soon as I posted I wondered why I didn't include that one as a non-controllable example (City of Minneapolis decision).... I didn't expect the over-under to be post 1. All I can say is Well Played. :)
 

josh087

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Frankly, I'm surprised this has never been mentioned on the board before, but I really think they should have the band march down University Ave.
DP - not entirely sure if this was a serious post or not.

If so - the band would love to march down university avenue on gamedays. And the idea has been brought up and seriously discussed. In fact, even before the stadium was built, this was one of the marketing/selling points used for the stadium.

Unfortunately, due to logistics (I can't remember all of the details so hopefully someone can fill me in) the decision was made that this could not be possible on gamedays. Hopefully someday this will change and the band can once again stroll down University Avenue towards an outdoor, on-campus stadium.
 

Schnauzer

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You make some really good points. Considering the amount of pat down attention I got last year (usually trying to get through security with either my family - wife and little kids, or other adults well beyond college age), I can't imagine what it was like for the students. That would turn me off too, if I were them. One game I had the security guy unzip and take apart my seat cushion! I am reminded of this every time I enjoy the ease of attending a Twins game, not to mention the easy experience of getting into the horseshoe last year. Ohio Stadium doesn't serve booze either but the security guards didn't seem to be highly motivated to pat down the armpits and seat cushions of everyone attending the game.

It seems as though last summer's booze debate manifested itself into a complete booze witch hunt at the stadium throughout the year. So, overall I really like your point #1.

For me, I would also like to see them figure out what Michigan and Ohio State seemed to figure out years ago... ways to have the band heard both on TV and in at the stadium.

Other things...

...full screen replays of touchdowns and big plays (this happened once in a while, but with far less frequency than what I have seen elsewhere. It meant the fancy big screen in reality was really more like an average sized stadium replay board).

...the obvious one: Nice job on selling the tickets, now create an atmosphere where people (especially students) actually USE the tickets they have purchased

...More day-of-game tailgating lots (the new one set up by the Oak Street Ramp is a good start). The current tailgate lots are waaaaaay overpriced and there aren't many good options within walking distance of the stadium where people could tailgate for a game or two per year. Last year, it was all or nothing: either fork over huge $$ or forget the idea (unless you were willing to be shuttled to campus).
 

RodentRampage

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The band issue is one the U ought to keep trying to get each year. Eventually, we'll get it, and it won't cause the problems that some think, and will be a great gameday boost.

I do think the security is overboard. There's no real rational basis for it. It's one of those things that is just done that way because it's been done that way in the past. If someone brings a flask in, the screeners won't find it anyway. It just got started as overreaction and stuck around.

I'd like to see the students involved in creating tradition and figuring out how to improve things, involve student groups. I like the idea of taking off the hats when walking through the "hats off to thee" arch, are students actually doing that?

One thing that people often don't get is that everyone's traditions are lame - to someone else. Michigan's touching the banner doesn't seem to impressive to me, but I'm not a Michigan fan. We too often let other people's smack against our traditions cause us to give up on them. If our traditions annoy our rivals fans then GOOD!!!
 

Rickman55

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The Band needs to get more involved. If you show up for the walk before the game you see a few of them for about 20 minutes. If you don't stay outside for the pregame concert you don't see them until they enter the stadium. While I love the Band I think they have gotten boring......even during the game. And I know that most of you won't like this but I don't think the Battle Hym of the Republic does anything to set an exciting atmosphere. This is a tradition as far as I'm concerned that can go.
 

Ski U Mah Gopher

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How about this you band people:

NEW STADIUM, NEW TRADITIONS

You can either have the band go down University Ave, or break up and go to lots & establishments.

The march around the stadium and the pregame concert are going to stay, along with the band participation in the Victory Walk.

When do you propose the march down University Ave take place (by the way, where the only people to view it will be the frat boys, since most of the parking is on the other side of the stadium)?

BTW, how about everyone in the WB lots finishing their tailgates at the same time and walking en masse through the campus to the stadium.
 

re3886

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you have got to be kidding...

The Band needs to get more involved. If you show up for the walk before the game you see a few of them for about 20 minutes. If you don't stay outside for the pregame concert you don't see them until they enter the stadium. While I love the Band I think they have gotten boring......even during the game. And I know that most of you won't like this but I don't think the Battle Hym of the Republic does anything to set an exciting atmosphere. This is a tradition as far as I'm concerned that can go.
You want to jettison one of the few band traditions we have left? you're right, I hope most of us disagree.
 

re3886

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oh, you mean the march around the stadium few see...

How about this you band people:

NEW STADIUM, NEW TRADITIONS

You can either have the band go down University Ave, or break up and go to lots & establishments.

The march around the stadium and the pregame concert are going to stay, along with the band participation in the Victory Walk.

When do you propose the march down University Ave take place (by the way, where the only people to view it will be the frat boys, since most of the parking is on the other side of the stadium)?

BTW, how about everyone in the WB lots finishing their tailgates at the same time and walking en masse through the campus to the stadium.
and less can hear? If your not in the front row of the victory walk, good luck hearing or seeing that either. Great. Another vote for mediocrity. So you want us to copy every other school, and do nothing truly our own.
 
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When i was on the Student Stadium Avisory Board we tried to talk them into having the band march down University. The only problem is that it is a lifeline for traffic in the area especially for 50000 people going to the stadium. Also once the Light Rail goes in, they really, really need that to help with traffic
 

tonypierce039

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What ultimately will make for a great gameday exp..

Win....end of story. Out here at Oregon, our tradition is having no tradition. Our players walk throught the indoor practice facility, a Harley leads our team onto the field. Other than that it's nothing but folks out grillin, throwing footballs, and havin fun with your friends and fam. Our stadium is not on campus...it's a 20 minute walk from the dorms. Our band doesn't line any streets. Our students show up late unless it's a "big" game. They leave early if it's a blowout. But when we win, each home game gets more electric as the season goes on. It's not about bands, food, getting into the stadium fast, it's about winning.
 

CP Gopher

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Please Please...get rid of the "That's another Golden Gopher........FIRST DOWN!"....It's the most lame, nerdy and vanilla cheer I've ever heard at a sporting event. And when opposing fans have the opportunity to mock it (which unfortunately is often), it's downright humiliating.
 

re3886

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we've been down this road.

When i was on the Student Stadium Avisory Board we tried to talk them into having the band march down University. The only problem is that it is a lifeline for traffic in the area especially for 50000 people going to the stadium. Also once the Light Rail goes in, they really, really need that to help with traffic
University is actually sort of lightly traveled based on the fact that on game day it barely moves anyway. The time required is tiny, and early enough that it would not effect the majority of University traffic that are made up of the 5 mins. before kickoff type of "fans". Several of us had email conversations with those in charge, and they hung their hats on the having to walk several blocks before the march would make the pregame inspection too early and the walk to hard and far 7 times a year. The argument does tend to move around a bit based on who you are talking to. The city of Minneapolis was blamed by a couple of people. The gist is, even though they paraded (pun intended) marching down University as a selling point for an on campus stadium, they have no intention of ever doing it. It will be a sore point for many of us who remember the march from old Memorial stadium.
 

vinko bogataj

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Win....end of story. Out here at Oregon, our tradition is having no tradition. Our players walk throught the indoor practice facility, a Harley leads our team onto the field. Other than that it's nothing but folks out grillin, throwing footballs, and havin fun with your friends and fam. Our stadium is not on campus...it's a 20 minute walk from the dorms. Our band doesn't line any streets. Our students show up late unless it's a "big" game. They leave early if it's a blowout. But when we win, each home game gets more electric as the season goes on. It's not about bands, food, getting into the stadium fast, it's about winning.
Thanks for not reading the original post. EVERYONE gets that people follow a winner, we have plenty of ways to comment on the obvious, thanks for restating that. That said, winning is not a quickly nor guaranteed controllable item and there are variables that impact that greatly (see other teams). Some teams can draw regardless of whether they win or have history, few granted, but consider- Cleveland Browns, Ole Miss Rebels, South Carolina Gamecocks- all marginally successful teams historically that draw well and have a large loyal fanbase with what is generally considered a great environment. Throw in teams that have proven to draw and have atmosphere even when they are down such as Arkansas, Iowa (yuck!), Texas A&M in college, Green Bay in the NFL before Holmgren had been as irrelevant as the Gophers back to 1966/1967. So there are other factors that can lead to a better gameday environment. We evidently face the same problems UO faces except that without a Phil Knight we can't buy our way up (I say that with envy not malice). We have to find some way to make the crowd experience better. This is even more important to Minnesota where we compete in the same city with the winning Vikings, winning, fan friendly Twins and with our hockey culture, the Wild. I work in marketing and sales and cannot think of an organization that holds it clients in less regard than the University does outside of the DMV. Even TSA at least has continuity in their processes. I will keep coming, I've missed one home game since 1992 and attend numerous road games, but if we want to expand the University has to do better than the attitude of "we built a stadium, there can be no criticism of any aspect of what we do, if you don't like it...piss off". Might work with diehard alums like me, but it doesn't sell to new students or fans. I am smart enough to recognize that there aren't enough chumps like me around to support a program properly over time. We are too small in number and too few in big dollars (I am not a big dollar guy). What do the teams mentioned above do that we don't?
 

MrGopher

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Please Please...get rid of the "That's another Golden Gopher........FIRST DOWN!"....It's the most lame, nerdy and vanilla cheer I've ever heard at a sporting event. And when opposing fans have the opportunity to mock it (which unfortunately is often), it's downright humiliating.
Oh, man. This one is always brought up and always is contentious. The thing about that cheer is that if everyone participated (not just in saying first down) but in the entire cheer, it would kick ass. The old people at the stadium are mostly old lazies (not everyone, but they are everywhere).

Sure it is stupid in essence, but Holy Lord is it frustrating to opposing teams if we can ever string together first downs!! What is embarrassing is we only ever get maybe two in a row. So yeah, it is a gamble. We may get laughed at, but there are a lot of lame and nerdy things that should get laughed at when it comes to collegiate athletics.

And I don't know if you know anything about Gopher Hockey, but the cheers there used to be fun and interesting and had band involvement and everything. But now, because people are stupid, they are encouraging the band to squash any of the traditional cheers if they include any curse words in them. Mariucci used to be a rocking place where students had a blast and opposing teams hated to go to. Now many find themselves working against the band and most have given up trying to get the old people to stand and cheer.

I hope both football and hockey can put the fun back into the games by letting people have fun.
 

Curseislifted33

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jucy lucys and dome dogs.

better and longer pump up video for team entrance.
 

vinko bogataj

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Sure it is stupid in essence, but Holy Lord is it frustrating to opposing teams if we can ever string together first downs!! What is embarrassing is we only ever get maybe two in a row. So yeah, it is a gamble. We may get laughed at, but there are a lot of lame and nerdy things that should get laughed at when it comes to collegiate athletics.

And I don't know if you know anything about Gopher Hockey, but the cheers there used to be fun and interesting and had band involvement and everything. But now, because people are stupid, they are encouraging the band to squash any of the traditional cheers if they include any curse words in them. Mariucci used to be a rocking place where students had a blast and opposing teams hated to go to. Now many find themselves working against the band and most have given up trying to get the old people to stand and cheer.

I hope both football and hockey can put the fun back into the games by letting people have fun.
Thank you! Agree, I had one fellow gopher fan tell me that while the "First Down" cheer is super stupid, the "Jump Around" tradition at UW is the greatest thing ever. Seriously. The cheer is stupid, but if we embrace it as our stupid, it would suddenly not be stupid anymore. A bunch of fat drunk old people wearing dead Badgers on their head trying to get their 300 lbs of heft off the ground while listening to a bunch of white gangster wanna be's try to rap is truly..... stupid. Seriously- "Word to your mom's, I came to drop bombs" is tradition? Of what, hitting the head for your Sunday morning dump? But it is UW's tradition, which while schlocky and stupid, has made it pretty neat even to Gopher fans (myself included). They don't care if their opponents think its stupid because its their's. Why do we care what the DB fans of other schools tell us they think of the first down cheer? A year ago, I commented on the Mariucci conundrum, hoping it is not replicated at TCF. We've worked hard to gain incremental dollars from the corpies there (Mooch). To appease the blue-hairs and non-Gopher fans who attend to entertain clients, we've suppressed the atmosphere. Now that we've stifled the atmosphere, we need even more the corpies who either let the seats sit empty at center ice, give them to their UW and UND fan clients/employees or go to watch a game-not cheer for the team (and there is a distinction). It's a disturbing possiblity to me that this is the very direction that the Gopher football experience is going. The University has to do more than build a stadium and expect to be successful or relevant.
 

GoGophers2005

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I don't know what people's problem with the first down chant is. Get over it. The Vikings liked it so much they now do it.

I hate the I-O-W-A chant after Iowa scores, but do you think they are getting rid of that for me? Who cares if Badger fans hate our first down stuff.
 
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I think that we need Hail minnesota at more sporting events. It's an awesome song and is under utilized or else a victory song. I hate iowa but hearing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ya-ArnK8Bpk after the orange bowl on national TV is pretty sweet admittedly.

I also thought people should jump in the fountain after a big victory... I know Kansas threw their goal posts in the lake after they won. Mississippi River Students after a HUGE win...if we can manage one.
 

GoGophers2005

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I think last year was an 8 out of 10 for fan experience.
I agree that cash registers would be at the top of the list and a close second place would be a more intelligent gate control before games.
-Open up the steel gates in the open end for an extra entrance.
-Allow general tickets to enter the student entrance if there isn't a line (this happened to me last year...no one in line but refused to let me in without a student ticket while all other gates were 50 persons deep). Communication people.

Oh, and open up tailgating lots at 6am for 11am games. 7am arrival just doesn't give you enough time.
 

gophmeister

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Win....end of story. Out here at Oregon, our tradition is having no tradition. Our players walk throught the indoor practice facility, a Harley leads our team onto the field. Other than that it's nothing but folks out grillin, throwing footballs, and havin fun with your friends and fam. Our stadium is not on campus...it's a 20 minute walk from the dorms. Our band doesn't line any streets. Our students show up late unless it's a "big" game. They leave early if it's a blowout. But when we win, each home game gets more electric as the season goes on. It's not about bands, food, getting into the stadium fast, it's about winning.
My wife has friends who went to Oregon and judging by the tailgating photos I've seen you're spot on. They have this sort of anti-football tradition vibe going on there. However, it is the stadium in which Pinto lost his virginity in Animal House, so it is tradition rich in that sense.
 

Gopherhurrin

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Sorry, when you are winning a lot of games everything is cool. When you lose every key game, nothing works. KISS.
 

gopherdudepart2

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They have to start with getting in the students faster

One suggestion I might make is a gathering at Northrup auditorium that plaza is an underutilized gathering space.
On to the students entrance. Everyone that say's that needs to improved BIG TIME is right. It was a very cattle like in a pen atmosphere from the students I knew that were at there gate last year waiting an hour or more to get in. All of the ID checks and alcohol checks you can do that without checking everyone, make it 1 in five or random checks. They were treated like second class citizens making them wait so long. It is there "University" too something that Maturi in his in his uuber security have everyone patted down mode seems to forget. Oh my a college kid may actually drink once in a while.
Quit it with all of this "imposed" code of conduct ram it down there throats repeat the sportsmanship crap creed. If the students want to say WHO HATES IOWA, then so be it.
Maturi needs to quit being such a weenie with that stuff it with the rinky dink high school "cheerl-eading" pep fest and glorified "We are Minnesota" cheers he tries to shove down on everyone. He is not a high school football coach anymore he doesn't need to mold behavior or be the morals police.

I don't know let the band the students and the fans come up with something there creative people will figure it out. Contrived, staged, phony crap sucks, things will evolve over time they always do. I like the first down cheer because it bugs the visiting fans so much. Don't care if it *&^!#*&^!#*&^!#*&^!#*&^!#*&^!#y, it is something we do. Something big we'll play after some corny song like "That girl is posion" get's played or some inglorious random song gets played students will create there own thing. I don't know it will happen, winning helps everything but things will happen and be created over time, maybe not as fast as we would like but it will happen.
 

go4rob

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The band issue is one the U ought to keep trying to get each year. Eventually, we'll get it, and it won't cause the problems that some think, and will be a great gameday boost.

I do think the security is overboard. There's no real rational basis for it. It's one of those things that is just done that way because it's been done that way in the past. If someone brings a flask in, the screeners won't find it anyway. It just got started as overreaction and stuck around.

I'd like to see the students involved in creating tradition and figuring out how to improve things, involve student groups. I like the idea of taking off the hats when walking through the "hats off to thee" arch, are students actually doing that?

One thing that people often don't get is that everyone's traditions are lame - to someone else. Michigan's touching the banner doesn't seem to impressive to me, but I'm not a Michigan fan. We too often let other people's smack against our traditions cause us to give up on them. If our traditions annoy our rivals fans then GOOD!!!
Last year I wrote the band director, and the head of the Alumni Assn. as well as Maturi and the answer I got was that with the light rail coming thru campus, that meant the closing of Washington Ave. and the U of M Police were in no way going to close Univ. Ave as it is the major thoroughfare running thru campus. The band also said that because their new home is TCF Stadium, why would they go all the way to the other side of campus just to march back to the stadium. Personally, I think they could have marched up 4th street to Dinkytown, made a left and came back on Univ Ave...but it really seemed that neither of the parties involved wanted to push the issue with the police. I complained, as a band alum, that I had been fed a line of b.s. by them because when they were touting the reasons for coming back to campus, one of the first lines out of their collectives mouths was that "the band will be marching down University Avenue one again". HA! If they really wanted to, they could figure out a way, but they don't, in typical U of M fashion, let's not ruffle any feathers.

On a side note, did anybody see the article in today's Strib about how the U has fumbled the hiring of a Softball Coach? This is so typical of the mentality over there, they have to form a committee and take 6 months to hire a janitor for crying out loud. We have to make everybody happy, that is our mantra!
 

wait!what?

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Don't play 'Jump Around" when the Badgers are visiting TCF. WTF was that last year?
 

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The Band needs to get more involved. If you show up for the walk before the game you see a few of them for about 20 minutes. If you don't stay outside for the pregame concert you don't see them until they enter the stadium. While I love the Band I think they have gotten boring......even during the game. And I know that most of you won't like this but I don't think the Battle Hym of the Republic does anything to set an exciting atmosphere. This is a tradition as far as I'm concerned that can go.
The Battle Hymn of the Republic and the Swinging Gates Processional, has been a U of M tradition since Dr. Ben wrote the arrangement in 1961 (or so). It is not as much about setting the atmosphere for the game as it is, and always will be, a prelude to the National Anthem! That is what is suppopsed to set the stage for. It has also become a tradition at Gopher Hockey games to designate a "sweep". They always play the BHOTR! I hope this traidition stays as it gives me goose bumps everytime I hear it.
 

RodentRampage

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People need to get some self-respect. All traditions are stupid - to an outsider. Michigan has the tradition of jumping up and touching a banner. It's lame - to everyone else. But to Michigan fans, it's a big deal.

If we have a unique tradition, some people will complain because it's something that not everyone does. If we do something that a lot of schools do, some people will complain that it isn't unique. It reminds me of one of Aesop's Fables. A man had two wives, one young and one old. While he slept, the old wife would pluck out his dark hairs, as it reminded her of how much older she was than him. And also while he slept, the young wife would pluck out all of his grey hairs. Before long, he was bald.

There are some people who want piped in music instead of the band. If you want that, you want the NFL. The Battle Hymn of the Republic and the Swinging Gates formation took a while to grow on me. Now you'll take it out of my cold, dead hands. That same thing with "And that's another Golden Gopher.... First Down!" That's one cheer that people actually participate in. Why in the world would we want to get rid of that?

Smack talkers will always talk smack. There is nothing you can do to make them stop. If you give in to them, they will know that you're a pansy and just pile on more. They are going to talk smack against our traditions. It's just to get under our skins, make us doubt ourselves. They can go stuff it. If someone's being an ass in our house, then "accidentally" spill your soda on them. Our rivals don't get a vote on our traditions.
 
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