The University of Kentucky is actively seeking fan input on how to alter football's game day atmosphere. Reform is desperately needed. You know the specifics I'm talking about. The stale announcing catch phrases, the out-of-touch music, and the introduction of seemingly random UK students and faculty. None of these are cardinal sins, but they don't add anything to the game. Sometimes they actually distract from it. Fortunately, everyone seems to be acknowledging that changes are needed. Kentucky Athletics' outreach to solicit fan opinions is laudable, but I believe it will ultimately be judged as misguided.
First, the solicitations UK receives will be from recipients that will generally be older and whiter than the population that attends home games assuming younger fans don't respond to the feedback (which I feel safe assuming). There's nothing wrong with being old and white - I love my parents! - but that demographic isn't representative of the crowd on game days.
Second, communication issues could arise. No matter how well UK states what it's looking for, the result is still a one-sided conversation with UK pushing information out to participants with little dialogue. The result is participants working to solve UK's problems being left to make assumptions, and these assumptions can lead to off-target and out of scope solutions. All of this potentially adds up to more frustration. Just asking BBN for feedback without parameters is too open-ended.
Third, openly asking for help from BBN will get a lot of opinions, but as more opinions are put forth, the average amount of effort by individuals decreases. In other words, the risk/reward ratio appears worse, so participants are less likely to put in a substantial amount of brain-storming. So, UK ends up with ideas rather than the solutions they seek because ideas don't concern themselves with practicality. This is how we end up with suggestions that could never possibly happen, like nominating The Soul Rebels to be Commonwealth Stadium's house band.
But, since UK is asking I'll happily share my opinion. First and foremost, ask the players what they want in terms of audio/visuals, and then ask the recruits what they want. Next check if it's practical and adjust as necessary. Finally, make an executive decision. More general advice that tries to avoid specifics:
- Don't be afraid to spend money if necessary. Good taste is often expensive.
- Don't be afraid of upsetting some elements of the fans because a) you can't make everyone happy anyway and b) they'll get over it.
- Stay away from gimmicks.
- Don't worry about establishing a tradition because traditions by nature are organic and spontaneous. Toomer's Corner doesn't get dressed in toilet paper because Auburn one day announced they wanted a new tradition.
- Update sections of the music catalogue annually.
- Maybe work this gem in sometime during a TV timeout or kick-off just for me.
- Utilize the new rule that let's stadiums play music up until the snap to the fullest extent.
- Boldly and unapologetically set the atmosphere and then get out of the way. The people will do the rest.
These days fans have the option of going to the game, or staying at home and watching from the couch. The latter is increasingly tempting so UK needs to make game day an "experience" rather than just an athletic competition. I know UK Athletics agrees and understands this conceptually so I have faith they'll get this right. They've proven they can execute new and innovative ideas recently whether it was elements of Midnight Madness or football's National Signing Day event.
Just prioritize the player's and recruit's opinions above all others. Most of all mine.