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Onward Debate: Do Noon Football Games Suck?

Yesterday’s announcement that this year’s Homecoming game against Northwestern will kick at noon got us some pretty bummed responses on Twitter. Here are just a few:

Though it sure seems like noon games suck from these tweets, some of us aren’t so sure. So, retired sports editor Zach Berger and managing editor Tim Gilbert present the latest Onward Debate: Do noon football games suck?

Yes. They suck so much. — Berger

Anyone that knows me can tell you that I value sleep a lot, maybe a little too much. I need at least eight hours, preferably 10, followed by a big cup of coffee if I’m going to be even remotely personable and cheery for the first couple hours after my head comes off the pillow.

And that’s the first reason that I hate 12 p.m. football games. The average Penn State student is going to go out on Friday night, stay out too late, and drag his or her hungover self to Beaver Stadium with the hater shades on to block out that painful, glaring sunlight, most likely stopping to drink somewhere along the way.

During my senior year, I had the honor of forgoing the pregame festivities, instead making my way to the press box two hours prior to kickoff to bring you all coverage every week. For those daunting 12 p.m. games, I’d be at my seat with a plate full of food and a cup full of caffeine and sugar, waiting for the stadium to start filling up so I could get a good picture to throw on Twitter.

Unfortunately, those early games usually meant a relatively empty student section come kickoff time. It would fill up by the end of the first quarter, but if the most energetic student section in the country can’t even make it to a game on time, there’s obviously an issue.

There’s no question that football is a game historically played in the sunlight. When you think football, you think pregame football in the parking lot during the afternoon…you think hot dogs and beers in the stands. There’s also no question that night games bring an intensity that isn’t there in the afternoon.

But the real deciding factor is that 12 p.m. games come with a tired student section, and a tired student section means a less intimidating gameday environment for the opposition.

No. I love noon games. — Gilbert

Indeed, I used to agree with Berger. Noon games meant any self-respecting Penn Stater should wake up by 9 a.m. (at the latest) to get both their tailgating/drinking and proper arrival in on time. After a typical Friday at Penn State, that isn’t exactly the most desirable way to spend a Saturday.

But during my junior year, my roommate and friend of the site Mike Barton and I had this very debate. He told me I was nuts, that noon games are the bread and butter of the Penn State student experience. I scoffed at him! I said noon games were bittersweet, that unless a game is at 3:30 or later, it’s equal parts hassle and fun to attend. I kept that mindset throughout the morning of the Eastern Michigan noon game, waking up at 8:30 a.m. and juggling a hangover with the desire to enjoy the day. It was rough.

It wasn’t until the second nooner of this past season, against Illinois, that I realized Barton was right. See, enjoying noon games is all about the strategy — if you gameplan properly and stick to it, you’re in for a damn good time. Simply cut your drink intake in half on the Friday night prior to the noon game, go to bed two hours earlier, and wake up by 6:30 a.m. The mollified hangover will help you retain that kid-on-Christmas feeling when you wake up early on Saturday, you can drink way more easily, and you’ll further appreciate the short four years you have to enjoy student section life in America’s second-largest stadium. By the time 9 a.m. rolls around, you won’t be thinking about how early you woke up. Trust me — sticking to that plan made Illinois my second-favorite game of this past season, next to, well, duh.

And there’s more! A noon game provides hours more for activities following its conclusion. These activities can include watching more football, tailgating, napping, waiting in the Big Onion line, bars-ing, nothing, and more. Good luck finding time to do all of those things after a night game.

Powering through the encumbrances that accompany noon games are part of Penn State life, and result in a gratifying experience. You’ll find that this Homecoming won’t be as bad as those tweets suggest if you do it properly.

So, who’s right? Comment away.

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