Everyone is talking about it. Not enough touchdowns. A head coach change mid-season. It has looked to laymen like an unusual flurry of activity in what is obviously not the Mean Green’s most stellar season. I’ll be honest: I don’t know the whys about all that.
I can talk with authority about how things appear to laymen because I am the ultimate when it comes to football. I don’t really even qualify as an armchair fan, much less quarterback. I understand the game; I just don’t relish watching the details unfold. What I do love, though, is Game Day. Regardless of the season’s scores, winning or not, I’m at the games wearing my green and having a blast.
Our youngest son Chris graduated from Texas A&M University in August. When his (and our) Aggie journey began back in 2011, we were unprepared for the vortex that swallowed us whole. Aggie football was at the heart of the giant sucking sound.
From our first game day experience, we were hooked. I was envious of our College Station CVB colleagues. Every home game, hotels are full and restaurants are packed. Game day pumps millions into their economy.
Because Chris was a member of the Corps of Cadets, Tim and I were among the thousands who traveled to every home game during his college career, sometimes without a ticket to the game. We went for the Aggie Game Day experience, something that, over time, spawned the concept for Denton’s Mean Green Game Day.
Mean Green Athletics and the CVB joined forces to merge the Apogee and downtown experiences into one major event during home games. Our goal is building Mean Green football attendance while teaching the art of dentoning at the same time. And even in an off year football-wise, this is winning.
Thirty-two businesses in the downtown and Fry Street entertainment districts partnered with us this year to fund a massive advertising and social media campaign aimed at engaging students, alumni and Dentonites on home game days. These special folks get it. Employees are sporting Mean Green wear and environments are Mean Green rich with banners, signs, pennants and game day specials. The campaign provides free game day shuttles that run two hours before kick-off until an hour after every home game between downtown and the pedestrian bridge at Apogee. In spite of the bleak season score-wise, the shuttles have moved some 700 people during the first three home games. They hop on and off along the route, most ending up at Apogee by game time.
The point here is that in spite of a difficult season, the game day experience is holding steady and strong. As I’m known to do, I researched a bit on the subject of general game day attendance in college football. What I discovered is important.
You may be surprised to learn that every team has bad seasons. I know: Shocker! Darren Rovell, ESPN.com Sports Business reporter, said in his May 14, 2015 column that, “ The top tier of college football teams had their worst average attendance this past season (2014) since the NCAA began compiling Division I-A averages in 2003.”
Ouch. The pain is everywhere. Is everyone having a bad season at one time? Not so much. University of Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne isn’t suffering. His team saw 3,000 more fans per game this season. But, (and this is the important part) he noted in Rovell’s story that, “schools are working harder than ever to get fans in the seats as the size of televisions and higher broadcast quality has led some to stay home to watch games. It is critical that the game-day experience is better for our fans than the television presentation," Byrne said.
The Mean Green Game Day experience is our city’s alternative for game-skipping armchair fans. This is bigger than a ballgame. It’s dentoning at its finest. It’s supporting our home team, in season and out, good season or not. And regardless of game outcomes, the experience itself keeps winning. This is a trend that, over time, will have alum hearts bleeding green in the same way Aggie hearts bleed maroon for all their days.
In his recent newsletter, UNT President Neal Smatresk said, “What matters most right now is that the Mean Green Nation rallies to support our student-athletes who put their heart and soul into the game.” In other words, we back our team no matter what.
Keep your green on and get into Game Day where everybody wins, even lay-fans like me.