Saturday, August 24, 2013

A plea for a Sanford Stadium renovation

This seems the perfect time to hold ourselves accountable. The season is mere days away, no longer a need to count it in months. We're on the precipice of what could be another special season. How down is your hunker? How ready are you to own your spot in Sanford?

And to be quite honest, I'm goddamn sick of excuses. So this might get a little uncomfortable if you attend games. I make no apologies because it's my problem too. And if you own the problem you can be a part of the solution. Because truly, Sanford Stadium has become a mere shadow of its former self. It used to be this great forum, one all opponents feared each and every visit just for the noise and mayhem it somehow contained. We were always frenzied at just the right times and on our feet to help the defense force a punt or generate a turnover or rise to the occasion as the game hung in the balance. And it's not even listed among the top ten venues across the nation. And truthfully, we don't deserve such recognition. Plus, I'm not sure we ever will deserve it again. With lagging ticket sales nationwide and higher quality television options, I often wonder if the drop in energy and enthusiasm can ever be rectified.

But truly, we only have ourselves to blame. You. Me. Him. Her. Instead of taking personal ownership of the problem, we point fingers. The students look at the old guys and point out that we're sitting on our hands. The old guys look at the students and point out that their watch is broken. Then, when Richt mentions how great the crowd was during a particular series, everyone pats themselves on the back. But what the coach is really wondering is why it's so different in Columbia, or Tuscaloosa, or Clemson. Don't believe me? You'll see on Saturday what stadium noise can rise to. You'll be forced to remember what frenzied looks like up close and personal. They might dance up and down to that Zombie song like the engiNerds, but their atmosphere remains electric. Intense. Nearly deafening.

And while it makes me sick to see the UGA student section still filling up as the first quarter clock ticks away, I also look across the aisle and see someone updating their BookFace status as Aaron Murray checks through his progressions. Yeh, and over there we have some dude taking a selfie with his back turned to the field as Malcolm Mitchell prepares to field a punt. Like that couldn't have been done 30 minutes ago as the team warmed up. Or at the next commercial break in action. Hell, the university itself penalizes students who have not only matriculated, but also returned to further their education as a graduate. I was once a "Double Dawg". Were you? As a grad student I got student tickets before anyone else. And that made a lot of sense as I had paid more fees and spent more time nurturing my loyalty, my faith and my indoctrination into all things red and black.

But now we're more concerned with coddling the younger pups and getting them exposed to the atmosphere around Sanford. We don't want to waste that opportunity on some graduate student that has already earned the right to sit there. Check this out:
"Undergraduates' time at the University should be focused on falling in love with the University and cheering on their alma mater, that includes football ... Undergraduates are just inherently more involved," he said. "They are the lifeblood of any University." 
He said that graduate students who spent undergraduate years at UGA already enjoyed the perks of being an undergraduate student.
Mr. Sinyard, please and kindly shut the fuck up. Being a Georgia Bulldog fan isn't a goddamn perk. It's a privilege. Something that is earned by the grace of God and displayed proudly at any and every opportunity. When Steve Spurrier brings his cluckers to town in two weeks, we don't need any newbies! We don't need any wet behind the ears, missing their mommas, fly is still open, wine cooler drinking because that's all their older sister would buy them, freshmen. We need seasoned veterans. Ladies and gentlemen that would give up hundreds of credit hours if they could just to sit beside my ass and scream their ever-loving head off! There's a reason students who've graduated and come back for more are referred to as "Double Dawgs". They've already doubled down on Committing to the G, only to get some second rate, half-assed political saliva in their eye.

While I'm rolling here, let me stand up a little straighter on this soapbox. Because as I take my seat in Sanford I can also look at the next section over and see numerous seats sold to opposing fans. People that wear orange and yellow and blue and all manner of ill-suited colors sitting in sections designed and built and managed for the purpose of allowing fans an opportunity to yell "GO DAWGS!!" Let me ask you this: would you rent out a bedroom in your home to some random Vandy fan just to make some easy cash? Did you even try to sell your seats to an actual Georgia fan before you whored them out on eBay? Every time you substitute your red blood for some bastard's yellow and black pom-pom, there is no hunker coming from that seat. The collective "WE" dies a little bit and James Franklin kills another puppy with his intense staring.

So what are we doing? I mean, what in the hell are we doing to ourselves? Pointing fingers at each other and biting the hand that has fed us for years? Giving tickets to enemies? YGTBFKM. This is our stadium; a place where legends have played and champions have been crowned. In the south we like to refer to our college football as a religion. On autumn Saturdays NOTHING else takes precedence. A wedding is a hindrance and a family reunion is for the vernal equinox. And yet, Sanford can be as quiet as the library up the hill. I've been to funerals that are more lively and seen elderly golfers that were more rambunctious.

And this all happens while men and women serve our great nation AND our DawgNation by waking up in the wee hours of the morning all across the globe to watch/listen to the Dawgs play. I wonder what Jason would've given last season to be on his feet in Sanford Stadium on a Saturday night instead of huddled over his iPhone and watching through the ESPN app in Japan.

All that to say, we're spoiled. We're lazy. And we've become too comfortable with being both. I'm as guilty as the next guy. You're as guilty as me. The difference needs to be that this season we take it upon ourselves to institute change, assist Sanford Stadium in its regression back to the mean. The old way, when the cheerleaders had more than a few thousand fans' attention and the Redcoats weren't just white noise in the background. The Junkyard, where opponents' wills came to be broken and their eardrums pulverized until the clock drained to zeroes and insisted the noise cease...until next Saturday!

The athletic office's public relations asks if we are "RED-Y". I am. Together, let's Commit to the G. Not just give it lip service, but actually commit! Let's make that stadium worse than bonkers. Let's go to church on Sunday with no voice whatsoever. Let's treat it for what it is - our stadium, our home. Where we go to see the Dawg play. Where we greet our opponents kindly, but make damn sure they piss in the urinals and sit in their designated spot!

This has to change. And it starts with me. And it starts with you. September 7th is as good a time as any. Pass this along to anyone that'll read it. Post it anywhere that will allow it. Ask your preacher for forgiveness tomorrow for just having read it. But on Monday share it some more. Spread the word. Let it ring from the mountain tops of northwest Georgia down to the shores of St. Simon's Island. We're taking our stadium back because it's not just a place to visit; it's a place where every ounce of energy we have is to be spent. The only "perk" of attendance should be getting to sit next to someone who dresses and sounds just like you.

Let's get after it! Our time. Our place. Our Sanford. Go Dawgs!