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The Beat Zone’s Missing Beat

The Beat Zone, as displayed in this picture from the Blue and White Society in mid-June, was a far cry from the one seen in the game against Alabama.

The “Beat Zone,” sponsored by the Blue and White Society, came to Beaver Stadium this past Saturday when Alabama clashed with Penn State, but it largely went unnoticed by the crowd of 107,846 fans.

When the ‘Beat Zone’ was first reported on by Onward State on June 17, the plan was, according to a BWS email, for the section flanking the S-Zone to spell out “Beat Bama or a similar slogan” with signs. However, the plan was changed before gameday to give 440 student members of the Blue and White Society signs that said “Beat Bama,” and randomly begin chants of “Beat Bama” within the student section.

There were numerous faults with this plan, but I’ll outline the most prominent:

  • Changing the plan: Fans spelling out a word or words with signs is not uncommon in an arena or field, although it is something that hasn’t been done within recent memory. However, each person holding a different letter to spell out a phrase is certainly something that can catch the attention of the rest of the stadium, and can provide an interesting photo or video to draw attention to the movement. Sitting in section SC, to the right of the Beat Zone in the south end zone, it was not even clear if the signs were employed, and if they were, there was no synchronization or timing to them to draw any attention from the normal atmosphere in the student section.
  • It was a members-only function: The Blue and White Society costs $15 to join, something not all students are going to want to pay; and therefore, the pool for such an effort becomes limited. Secondly, aside from being a member, those interested had to meet at Medlar Field at 12:30 p.m. for the Blue and White Society picnic. With the variety of activities that encompass gameday in Happy Valley, from tailgating with friends to waiting for the blue bus to arrive to waiting in line for the best possible seats to any other activities one could find during pregame, it’s tough to expect students to divert from their usual routines to attend a picnic at which, if they are not one of the first 440 people present, they won’t get a spot in the zone. Opening up to all students would seem more feasible, and also attract more attention and interest.
  • There is already too much confusion in the student section: Whether you are a fan of the new STEP seating program or not, it’s rather clear that there is confusion among the students as to when chants are going to start, when the wave is going to start, and so on. When the “We Are Penn State” chant struggles to get going in a full student section, attempting to introduce a “Beat Bama” chant in to the mix is less than ideal, and even more so, likely to be unsuccessful, as proven on Saturday.
The Beat Zone had the right intentions, assuming its intentions were to get students involved, get a new tradition started in the student section, and try to add to the intimidating atmosphere that is already present for a visiting team coming to Penn State. However, with a lack of organization and plan, a limited amount of cohesion between the group of students representing the Beat Zone, and a seating plan in place forcing students to reorganize the student section, the Beat Zone beat itself in trying to be a successful new tradition.
Update, 12:47 p.m.—We’ve added a picture of the actual Beat Zone from this weekend’s game to give you an idea of how it looked. The image only shows the Zone one side of the S-Zone, but the two are identical.

About the Author

Greg Pickel

Content Contributor for all things Penn State and member of the Pennsylvania Sports Network.

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