I am a happily married man. My wife and I are a team. We go through good times and times that are not so good . No matter what life throws at us, we take comfort in knowing that we are there for each other. We always have each others back. One of the most important aspects of our relationship is knowing that we have the others support even when we are wrong. We will defend each other publicly until the end of time. The beauty of it is that we can talk about it later, in private, and tell the other where and why they were wrong and nobody gets upset. Support is a key value and it’s what keeps my wife and I strong as a team.
Card family, I have publicly defended you for as long as I can remember and I will continue to do so but now is the time we have that talk where I tell you where you were wrong. We don’t have this talk to belittle each other but rather to help us become stronger. We as a fan base should always be looking for a way to better ourselves to be the best we can be. That is why I need to ask you, why are you leaving games early?
Louisville has a very large and loyal fan base so this is not directed at all of you. When you read this you will have one of two reactions. You will either be like me and question why people leave early or you will make excuses for why people are leaving early. If you find yourself making excuses then you are probably one of the people who are leaving early every game. I understand there are more important things in life than sports and sometimes you do need to leave at a certain time but not every game or games where it seems the outcome has been decided.
I am a middle class man and I make an honest living. I have season tickets for football but basketball tickets are expensive and there are about 21 home games a year as opposed to 6 home football games. I wish I could make the commitment to be a season ticket holder for all 21 games but my duties as a father and my job do not allow me to. I make it to as many basketball games as I can. When you make the purchase of season tickets, for any sport, you also make an unwritten contract to the team. The contract states that you will be in your seats at the start of the game and you will stay and support the whole team until the game is officially over, even if it appears the outcome is decided. If you can’t stay for the whole game then you should give or sell your tickets to someone like myself who will get there early, cheer until I lose my voice, stand the whole game (if needed) and will stay until the clock reads 0:00. I understand you work hard for your money and you spent your hard-earned money on those tickets, so you are free to do whatever you want. That is where I have publicly supported you for years. I have spent way too much time on social media defending pictures of empty seats at the start of games and pictures of fans filing out with plenty of time on the clock. I have relentlessly defended you and I will publicly continue to do so but when I started asking people why they were leaving early, the responses I received really tested my desire to continue to support you. The most common excuse was that they are trying to beat traffic. I have a hard time defending that excuse. Other excuses such as “I need to get home because I am paying a babysitter” or “I have to work in the morning” are much easier to defend. I still don’t think those are really great excuses but I can defend those. The excuses for people arriving late are the easiest to defend. Traffic, again, was the most common excuse. The noon football games are tough on people with children because of soccer games and school related activities. As a parent. I understand. The problem I have is when I see you out tailgating as I am walking into a football game and I don’t see you in your seat until midway through the second quarter. That’s just saying to me that this is more of a social event for you and you don’t really care about supporting the team.
The Louisville fan base as a whole has a reputation of being a very social fan base. We like to drink and party at our events. I am fine with who we are as long as we remember why we are there. We are there to support the team. There is nothing wrong with having a good time while we are doing our duty as a fan. We also are very fickle about the weather. Unless it’s sunny and 75 degrees, you won’t see Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium full. Yes it may be a sell out but just because all the tickets are sold it doesn’t mean there is a butt in every seat. Weather becomes less of a factor when it’s a prime time game or a nationally televised game against a reputable opponent. In those cases people come out of the woodwork and fill the stadium up. The game becomes THE social event and nobody wants to miss out on the big game. Although other fan bases will insult us for not filling up the stadium every game, I completely understand the weather excuse. Nobody wants to go to a party and be uncomfortable. I, however, have never missed a game due to weather. Nor will I. The main problems with football and basketball is getting people in their seats before the start of the game and after halftime. The University tried to address those problems and capitalize on our social fans by luring them with alcohol. The program offered $1 beers on the party deck for fans prior to kickoff. The idea was an attempt to get the tailgaters in the stadium early. The plan for basketball was to build a bourbon lounge and a vodka lounge under the lower level seating at the Yum! Center. I believe the thought behind the lounges was that fans could get a drink and use the restroom at halftime and be close to their seats so that they return in time for the start of the second half. The University also used the $1 beer ploy for the Spring football game on April 3th, 2013. I know that “promotion” got plenty of national attention and as I recall the beers were very good. The University of Louisville understand it’s fan base and caters to it for the benefit of all the programs.
I want to reiterate my earlier statement that this is not directed at all of you. This is for the fans that get there late, leave early often or don’t show up. Please do not take offense if you are a fan like myself who gets in his seat early and stays till it’s over. I want to thank those of you who do as I do. I appreciate and respect your commitment.
Reasons for Discussion
I felt the timing was right to bring this topic to the forefront, especially with all this “I’ve Got Your Back” stuff going around. Football season is approaching and we need to be the best fans we can be. This upcoming season has a chance to be a very special one but the team needs all of us fans as one and at our best. Also, I was recently lambasted on Twitter for a piece I wrote asking if we were giving Lee and Lewis too much love. I was called names I don’t care to repeat. I was told I was crazy and we could never do enough to repay them. Then I noticed on senior night that as soon as the game was over, a few people were hustling out of there as if they were on fire. Then Trey Lewis took the mic to address the crowd for his last time as a Cardinal and more people started leaving. Instantaneously on Twitter there were fans calling out other fans for leaving. I though how could people not stay and listen to these two say farewell after it was made perfectly clear to me that we need to give them everything we could. So I assumed an extra few minutes of our attention wasn’t too much to ask. Apparently it was.
Louisville vs. Marquette 2011. After the under 8 minute media timeout, there were fans exiting in disgust because we were losing by 18. Several loyal fans were yelling at them as they left saying “Don’t give up on this game.” What came next was the greatest comeback I have ever witnessed. Thanks to @nunnstoppable for giving me his student ticket.
This is why you never leave early…….
We are family and we are together for better or worse. I will continue to publicly support you and I will always have your back but let’s just try to make it easier for everyone. Do your work as a fan and be the best fan you can be. Never settle on being a great fan. Always look for ways to improve yourself as a fan and a person. Let’s weather this storm that’s approaching together and come out stronger on the other side.
As always, GO CARDS!