Here is my Letter to the Editor.
Published on 2.7.08 in the college paper, the Daily Beacon
After the new renovation of Thompson-Boling Arena and the great success of men’s basketball, the University of Tennessee is being looked at as more then a just a football school. With the victory over Florida Tuesday, the Volunteers extended their home record to 28 straight wins. Those victories have packed Thompson-Boling Arena to the brim — except last Tuesday.
The final attendance was 20,036 but there wasn’t an unsold ticket in the house. The remaining empty seats were for the most devoted fans: the students. The number of seats given to the students was 3,700. Only 2,400 showed.
You might say that isn’t bad for a Tuesday, but this isn’t any game. It was a game against the Florida Gators. I didn’t think we needed a reminder of the rivalry between Tennessee and Florida, but the attendance at our last game speaks differently.
At the beginning of this school year and the renovations student seating was cut, which triggered an uproar from students, fans and Orange Nation. Angry phone calls, e-mails and even Facebook groups sprouted up reporting that the students were there through everything and the Vols aren’t supporting them back. It was said these cuts were for elite donors.
As the season started, order was restored to the arrangement by fluctuating student tickets per game depending on the game. The Florida game was still held as the “biggest game of the season,” and student tickets were maxed out at 3,700. The moment of truth came earlier this week and what was the turnout? An average 2,400.
OK, so we didn’t show up for a basketball game, big deal. That is exactly the point. A school that has a Final Four team can’t even get 10 percent of its student population to support them. It is a big deal! I was disappointed. I am sure the other fans were disappointed. And I know the athletic department was disappointed.
If we don’t show up, then we might as well cut our allotment again. If students can’t devote three hours of a Tuesday night to support their team, we can’t argue that those tickets belong to us. They do belong to an elite donor.
I think it can be said the team has been there through everything and the students aren’t supporting them back. The next game is on Feb. 13. Let us do our share and at least show up.