LSU & Big 12 Playing Sour Notes To The Spirit Of College Football
I was appalled to learn that LSU – one of my fellow SEC schools – announced that will it no longer allow visiting bands to perform during halftime at Tiger Stadium.
Furthermore, I was infuriated at the flimsy excuse: “it’s a safety issue,” athletic department spokesman Michael Bonnette told the Baton Rouge Advocate.
Really, they played the safety card? The stated reason was too many people are on the sideline, but I see it more as a way to squeeze out college bands from the stands in order sell a few more seats to fans.
Fortunately, the outcry from bands was so loud that LSU ran a reverse and changed that policy within a week of it becoming public. (Funny, but it’s the second time LSU football has done an about-face in the past six months; late last fall it was about to dump Head Coach Les Miles before it brought him back for his 12th season).
To be clear, the bands could still be in the stands but visiting ADs would eventually reduce this to pep bands like at home basketball games.
Still, in doing research for this article I learned that the Big 12 actually charges bands for the seats in the stadium. This is ridiculous. The band is there to perform, to enhance the college experience for the fans, players and media.
Furthermore, they are charging full price, $75-100 a ticket. College bands travel with more than 300 people so that’s $30,000 in expenses just to get into the game. That’s plain and simple being greedy – what, the millions you get from conference TV and bowl revenues is not enough; you have to squeeze every nickel out of everyone at the game!?
It’s a good thing that LSU let the bands play on; it’s like a referee putting a penalty flag back in his pocket. Because it’s likely other SEC schools would have followed the Tigers’ lead and another great, hundred-year-old tradition of college football would be lost to, well. greed.
It’s bad enough that we’ve lost long-standing rivalry games – Texas-Texas A&M, Nebraska-Oklahoma, Notre Dame-Michigan – and to have visiting bands muffled would have been another fumble for the modern game.
As a proud alumni of the University of Alabama’s Million Dollar Band (alto sax, if you are asking), I can tell you that one of the thrills of being a band member is going to the away games. Seeing and experiencing other stadiums and campuses provide experiences and memories that literally last a lifetime.
Bands also provide a valuable boost for visiting fans – outnumbered by a 10-1 margin, it’s a moment of pride and comfort when they see their band marching through the tailgate party and into the stadium.
Maybe it’s the greedy athletic directors and administrators we should tune out rather than the bands.