Open Letter to Fans, Thanks for Going to the Games but CHEER!
After being at games around the country it isn't hard to tell that Lavell Edwards Stadium is not the most energetic crowd.
Dear fans that regularly go to games in LES,
Last week I was watching the UCLA game and this image was shared on Twitter showing how the stadium was essentially empty for one of the more historic Power Five programs in the nation at perhaps the most known venue in College Football. While some can argue various reasons for the stadium being 10% (maybe) full, the bottom line is that fan base has left their team.
BYU Football, even back when they were 4-9 in 2017 was not that bad. In fact, the stadium hit 46,451 fans which is 73% capacity despite the Cougars being 2-7 and already ineligible for a bowl game. That is the only game in the last who knows how many years that the stadium did not reach at least 50,000 fans.
That is something to hang your hat on fans, that is great. What I am going to talk about next however is not so great.
Last week at the BYU vs Tennessee game I noticed that fans on both sides were constantly standing, cheering, yelling and supporting their team. It didn't matter that the game was low scoring (in regulation) or that neither team seemed able to find the end zone, the crowd was in the game.
I've also been to BYU Football games in Tulsa, Dallas and Oxford as well as dozens of games in Fayetteville to cheer on my second team, the Arkansas Razorbacks. At each of these games the crowd was invested, loud and on their feet regardless of the score or situation.
As a student at BYU in the ROC section, I had a very similar experience. However, there were a few occasions when I would either go by myself and find a seat at the 50 yard line or I would get a ticket with a non student and we would sit somewhere else. It wasn't as fun, in fact I decided to stay home on a few occasions and watch the game on TV.
I remember a particular play in 2015 in a game against UConn. I was sitting at the 45 yard line on the west bleachers. The game was 10-10 late in the third quarter and the Cougars forced a three and out. The Cougars were heavily favored in this game, and that stop appeared to finally give BYU some momentum. I stood up and cheered as I saw the ball hit the ground after an incomplete pass that forced the Huskies to punt.
To my surprise people started to yell at me, telling me to sit down and stop being so loud. I was shocked. This was a big moment, sure it wasn't a touchdown or interception, but it was a bit moment nonetheless. For the rest of the game I felt forced to stay in my seat and not cheer the way I wanted to.
I thought that maybe this was just a one time thing, but in 2016 against Utah State it happened again, this time in the north end zone. No kidding, I was sitting near a group of older fans who the entire game were bickering how "Back in the day..." and "Today's game it too fancy..." and even when the team scored this group stayed in their seats and complained how BYU got lucky. Naturally, as a fan I stood quite a bit that game and in the third quarter, again against a rival in a close game, I was told to sit down and not be so loud. I could go on to share two other experiences I had around the stadium with fans complaining and telling either myself of fans around me to sit down because they couldn't see.
It even affected me against Tennessee. I kept on standing up (I was in the first row of the BYU section) and felt that I had to sit down, and few times even did. As the game went on though, I realized that nobody was complaining about me standing up, in fact I looked back and saw people standing all over. For the rest of the game I stood and cheered and had a blast. Did it make a difference in the game? I'd like to think so, the players sure talked about it. But even if it didn't I had more fun because of it.
It is so bad that there are jokes and stereotypes about the fans. Now, to clarify I don't say believe all the stereotypes you read about, but stereotypes do more times than not stem from something that is true. The fact is, BYU is often made fun of for "Sister Jones knitting" or "Brother Smith yelling at the young whippersnappers". While those are exaggerated, they are true to a degree and that has to change.
I'm not blaming everyone. There are pockets of Lavell Edwards Stadium that are loud and fun to be part of, however they are few and far between. Football is supposed to be fun. Sure BYU isn't winning 11 games every year like "back in the day" but if that is all you will be satisfied with don't go to the games. Sell your tickets who just want to see BYU play.
Unfortunately, I have to admit that out of the 12 games I have been to that I was not in the ROC section, four out of the top five games I enjoyed most were road games. And I'm not alone. @GrizzFather on Twitter agreed that the Tennessee game was the most fun he has ever had, and he has been a TON of games.
I've noticed that the fans at the road games are the kind of fans that like to be loud and on their feet. When we talk about the most energetic crowds for BYU fans, often times the Wisconsin, Arizona and now Tennessee games are brought up. People have fun at those games because they don't feel forced to have to sit quietly.
Fans, please stand up on third down. Not only in the fourth quarter, but every third down. Get on your feet during the fight song, even if it is a blowout. Don't yell at fans for cheering loud, that is the reason they are at the stadium. Get to the game early, not after kickoff and enjoy the new pregame festivities.
Just have fun! Trust me, it makes the game time experience more enjoyable.