What happened to college football's "pageantry?"

Living in N.C., it's tough for me to get to FSU games, but I've managed about one per year for the last 10 years.

Last year I saw the Noles beat Maryland in Tallahassee. This year, I made it to Atlanta for the exciting but ultimately disappointing loss to the Jackets.

While taking my family to these games is fun and we enjoy the sites and sounds outside the stadium, the game itself and all the excitement surrounding the event, I have been stewing over something at college football games that I just don't understand: Overuse of the big screens and sound systems.

In Atlanta, with about 50 minutes until kickoff, the relentless booming of hip hop being pounding in the stadium during warmups. Both the Marching Chiefs and Ga. Tech's fine band entered the stadium and began to attempt to play music as the teams warmed up.

You couldn't hear a thing.

And it never stopped. All the way until the conductors of the booming beat reluctantly yielded to the Ga. Tech marching band for its on-field pre-game show.

As the game began, virtually every minute of TV timeout time was filled with either promos (I understand the need to pay the bills) or gratuitously loud music, drowning out the bands.

This isn't just a Georgia Tech problem -- the same thing has been true at FSU home games since the advent of the Jumbotron and it only seems to get worse year to year.

Now, i'm sure some of you whippersnappers will immediatley write this off as the grumblings of an old fart. But, I'm not THAT old. I have young children and we often listen to the same music on the various "hip" XM channels.

But look, college marching bands are unique. Think about it -- at what other sporting event do you have such an artistic compliment to the athletics being conducted on the field?

EVERY major sporting event has access to loud music. But why would we want to neuter our college bands so that our sporting events can be more like Arena football games or, even worse, the NBA? You can hear that stuff ANYWHERE. You can't hear college bands play anywhere else.

At Georgia Tech, I asked all the folks sitting around me -- young and old, FSU and GT, if they liked this relentless, driving, loud music in place of a chance for cheers or the bands. I couldn't find anybody who said they did -- the younger folks were actually the most vociferous in their disdain.

So why does this happen?

I know it's not the big money alumni. Frankly, I'm at a loss as to why some of them haven't dropped the hammer on this. Truthfully, it was so bad in Atlanta I felt like I was suffering from some sort of sensory overload.

Here's my theory: You give somebody new toys and they feel like they've got to play with them. I think this is big university marketing types run amok. They think they need to create a "high-tech, high-impact experience" and so they fill up every minute of air time with special effects, gimmickry and sound.


It's time for us to take back the pageantry of college football. I know there are sponsors to pay, but in the other open spaces, let's let the event breathe a little. Let's let the band set the tempo for cheering and revelry and leave the "extreme cuts" to Arena Football and ESPN highlight shows.

If you agree with this strongly, let's start some momentum.

What I'm going to do is send this as a letter to the athletics departments and marketing departments at FSU and Georgia Tech.

You are obviously free to do the same. Or, you can e-mail a link to this post around the Web and let's see if it strikes a nerve. Who knows, maybe me and the folks sitting around me at Bobby Dodd were the only ones who miss the old-style pageantry of college football.

But I'd bet "two bits" that lots of folks agree that the trend toward sensory overload is nothing to cheer about.

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