From the student paper at the University of South Dakota (My comments are in parentheses.):

‘With a 10-3 lead over Western Illinois and a crowd of 10,200, the University of South Dakota football team had it all going for them heading into halftime of the Dakota Days game Oct. 6.

Little did they know that as they prepared for the second half, hundreds of USD student fans were filing out of the bleachers and walking out of the DakotaDome.

USD swiftly lost the lead, inevitably losing 24-17 to WIU. [Why inevitably? Does the writer instead mean ultimately, or eventually?]

The obvious lack of fan support as of late has left USD administrators scratching their heads, wondering, where exactly students are going? [Throughout the article, awkward use of commas and awkward word order contribute to a certain messiness. Plus you don't need as of late. Maybe rewrite in this way: The obvious lack of fan support has USD administrators scratching their heads, wondering where students are going.]

For USD athletic director David Sayler the real question is: Why do the students leave?

“It has been a frustrating situation,” Sayler said. “Student support is essential to college teams, they bring the energy and the atmosphere teams use to thrive. We need them at home games.” [Semi-colon after teams.]

Assistant director of Student Life Lindsay Sparks said the issue needs to be addressed by both the university and its students. [Pause and think about "the issue." Why is there a problem here? So some students leave an event early. If they're bored or hungry or want a drink - no booze allowed at this stadium - that's their business. Are you going to lock them in?]

“The university really does need to address it and figure out what’s going on,” Sparks said. “But I also think students need to make the commitment.” [Here we go. The glory of attending a big sports school is that the school is always after you to buy tickets and keep your butt in the stadium seat and shriek your head off with uncontrollable excitement over your team. It's really a bit demeaning, isn't it? To you and to the school? From the moment you arrive large amounts of money and staff time are devoted to making you "commit" to desperately caring about a football team.]

Sophomore Austin Johnson said he has been baffled by the lack of student fan support.

“(The students) represent this school and when we don’t stay at games, it reflects negatively on the university,” said Johnson. [No it doesn't. It's a university, see, not a boosters club. The fact that a lot of students are bored out of their gourd by football in general, or by your particular team, says nothing negative about your university. In fact, it might say something positive. What if they're streaming out in order to go home and read their economics textbook?]

Sparks said in order to improve the lack of student support at athletic events, the question over why students are leaving must be answered. [See? Sparks is a salaried employee at a university. Lindsay's job is to psychoanalyze students in order to discover the secret of their indifference to a game.]

“When I talk to students who regularly leave games, most of them tell me they leave because their friends are leaving,” Sparks said. “We are still puzzled over why exactly students don’t want to stay, and until we do know, we can’t give them what they want.” [Give them what they want. The customer is always right! Just find out what the buggers want and give it to them!]

Sayler said efforts to improve student involvement at athletic events has been attempting in the past. [Wake up. Rewrite.]

“We have tried to give things away during games and we are playing very student heavy music, but nothing seems to stick,” said Sayler. [The nanny state gives out free gifts and plays student heavy music, so why aren't they happy? Why doesn't that succeed in lulling them into a full-game trance?]

While Sayler and Spark’s guess as to why students are leaving are good as any ones, Johnson said it all boils down to one thing. Alcohol.

“A lot of (students) leave because there is no alcohol served at the DakotaDome,” Johnson said. “They lose their buzz and then leave to go drink again.” [For some people - let's not use hurtful words in characterizing them - alcohol is more important than anything -- even a University of South Dakota football game. When its effects wear off, they will search for more.]

Sparks said the university is aware that alcohol is a factor, but serving alcohol at games to solve retention is out of the question. [Why? Many, many American universities - more universities all the time - pour expensive beer down their students' gullets in order to immobilize them in their seats. Those who aren't immobilized get into fights and verbally abuse other fans and all, but that's what hundreds of police are for. Time for USD to join the fun.]

“The DakotaDome is owned by the university,” Sparks said. “So, while we know some students say alcohol would help keep people there, our hands our tied.” [UD predicts the university will get the message and do what needs to be done.]

… Head coach Joe Glenn said legacy of a fan base lies on the shoulders of the students. [It's your responsibility, now that we've accepted you at our university, to be a fan base.]

“If students get to know their players and learn to cheer them on, then the longevity of the fan base will extend,” Glenn said. [UD has spent years getting to know quite a few American university football players. She responds to some players with a hope that they will be able to overcome their illiteracy problem, and to others with a hope that their time in jail helps straighten them out. A few others inspire her with their brains and maturity, but for the most part she finds little to cheer about here. Why should students be any different?]

As far as the university is concerned, Sayler said in order to improve the current situation, honesty is key.

“We need the students to be completely honest with us,” Sayler said. “We want them to tell us what they want to see at football games. If they are leaving because our team loses, or because there isn’t enough interaction, we want to know. Once we have a clear understanding at what is driving students away at halftime, we will being to work towards improving the experience as much as we can.” ‘ [I think the university knows perfectly well why students leave. They're basically bored. Being drunk, as we know, is an excellent way to tolerate boredom. They're leaving because they don't feel drunk anymore, and as result they're bored.]

The solution seems to UD obvious. You’ve got everything else in place – presents, student heavy music. You’ve almost put them out. But without something like this –

– a personal at-will dispensing mechanism at every seat so they can suck on that teat the minute they start to feel sober – you’re going to lose clients.

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6 Responses to “Scathing Online Schoolmarm”

  1. Alan Allport Says:

    “If students get to know their players and learn to cheer them on, then the longevity of the fan base will extend.”

    Well, there’s a selling point; watching USD football will add years to your life! Or maybe it’ll just feel like it.

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Alan: Yes – that was one of a number of sentences that allowed for multiple interpretations.

  3. Mr Punch Says:

    USD (1-5) v. W. Ill (2-4)? 10-3 at the half? Hell yeah, I’d want a beer! At least.

  4. Barbara MacDonald Allport Says:

    I need to get a job in university administration. I could solve the student attendance problem and increase revenue by signing an exclusive beer deal with one of the makers of horrible brand name swill. The university will engorge their coffers and the students will stay. The amount made on beer sales will more than cover the extra police costs. The positive vibe the football players feel from the student support will lead them to a bowl game. This will increase applications. Academics are not the true purpose of a university… creating a cult like alumni base is the meaningful duty of a university.

  5. University Diaries » UD loves chronicling the dignified business of universities hectoring their students into… Says:

    [...] showing up for games. It’s such becoming behavior for a university, harassing your undergraduates out of the [...]

  6. wayward Says:

    And yes, South Dakota would be the same state that just re-elected Kristi Noem over Matt Varilek.

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