Penn Staters Share Why They Don’t Go To Football Games
There are hundreds of thousands of Penn State students, alumni, and fans, but only 107k seats in Beaver Stadium. We figured there has to be a reason (other than capacity) that every Penn Stater isn’t at every Nittany Lions’ home game, so we decided to ask.
We weren’t surprised when the responses poured in. People of all ages had a valid excuse for why they don’t go to Penn State football games, and though some of them fit into various categories, each was unique. A number of submitters also pointed out that even though they attended games for years, there are things that have changed either in their lives or in the stadium that prohibit their attendance.
Here are some of the most interesting responses as to why people don’t attend Penn State football games.
Too Far Away
A number of the responses we received had to do with the fact that the average Penn Stater, though a Nittany Lion football fan, can’t make it to Beaver Stadium on gameday because of their current geographic location.
“Getting back is harder as an alumnus in general because I live 3-plus hours away, which I think is one of the biggest drawbacks to consistent non-student attendance and will continue to be,” 2010 grad Mike Macheski said. “I never miss a game on TV, though.”
Some fans like Val Evans, a 1975 grad, would need to do more than just hop in the car and brave the drive to Happy Valley if they wanted to attend a game, but they make the best of the situation. “I would LOVE to attend every game in person but I live in Salt Lake City and air fare is very pricey. Instead, I do the next best thing and get together locally to watch the games with other alums. I do try to get back for a game every other year or so. There’s nothing like the energy at [University Park]!”
Mike Flynn, a 2011 grad, didn’t miss a game in five years during his time at Penn State, but now he’s got a pretty valid excuse. “I do not attend games in Beaver Stadium for one small reason, I live in Australia.”
Flynn is still a die-hard fan though, all things considered. “Instead of tailgating and watching in Beaver Stadium, I now have the privilege of waking up as early as 3 or 4 a.m. Sunday morning to stream the games. Really puts a new meaning on how brutal those noon games are, doesn’t it?!”
Not Fan Friendly
Some fans try their best to make it to the stadium and want to be there to cheer on the team, but aren’t comfortable in Beaver Stadium.
One fan mentioned that he was uncomfortable because of the unfriendly atmosphere he experienced at his first game. “I love Penn State football. I bleed blue and white, but I don’t feel comfortable going to games. I am overweight and get teased because of this. I went to my first game with my body painted in blue and white. I was not wearing a shirt. I was so excited, but when I got to the student section, that excitement crashed and died. I was called tubby by numerous students. Everyone was staring at me like it was a crime not to have a shirt on. At halftime this group of guys wanted me to do something called the truffle shuffle, and it made me feel pretty bad. So now, I just watch games at home. Beaver Stadium can be a tough place for overweight people.”
Thomas Bux said the gameday logistics make attending games not fan friendly or appealing. “You can’t leave the stadium and return. You can’t bring a bag into the stadium. I can attend a nearby NASCAR race bring my own food and come and go to the track as I please during the event.” Bux also noted that the high prices “discourage new fans from discovering the game.”
One fan attends games themselves, but said their friends aren’t inspired to go because the seats squeeze fans together so much, making them uncomfortable. “I attend but friends of mine will not go with me because they don’t like being jammed in their seats like a can of sardines. If all the lower level seats, except the student section because they stand, were individualized, it would be a more memorable experience because you would actually be able to watch the game rather than worry what seat you’re sitting on.”
Fortunately, some of these issues may soon be remedied.
Came Here To Play School
While some people came to Penn State to take in the football culture they’ve always loved, a number of Penn Staters chose the university because of the academics it offers, and going crazy over football isn’t a part of that.
“I’m not enamored by Penn State football culture,” class of 2015 grad Keri Dinsmore said. “Sorry I’m not sorry I actually went to this school for its academics and its equine program. Yes, over half of my family has gone to and graduated from Penn State, but that doesn’t mean I have to be a crazy diehard football fan.”
One 2015 grad said that, though they have Penn State pride, it is for Penn State’s research and academics instead of its football program. “I’ve never liked football, so why would I spend money to waste two-plus hours of my life that I’m not going to enjoy to begin with? Penn State is a renown research institution, which is precisely the reason I chose Happy Valley as my home for four years.” The responder, who preferred to remain anonymous, also said they have no problem with those who attend games, it just wasn’t their thing. “I just especially hated it when people would look at me like I was a horrible person just by not going to football games,” they said. “It’s not for everyone. It doesn’t have to be for everyone. It certainly wasn’t for me.”
The Student Section Is Crazy
If you’ve been in the student section for a game, you can attest to this. For some, it gets to be a little too much sometimes.
“I don’t have the money, time, or energy to stand with thousands of strangers for an extended period of time. I’d rather ‘hit the sack’ until noon than watch Hackenberg get sacked,” said junior Eli Swanson, who hasn’t attended a game in her three years at Penn State.
One student cited social anxiety. “I hate noise and people. I hate how people get drunk/stoned before and after and during the game. Sometimes it’s just a reason to drink.”
A current senior said that even though she respects the players, cheerleaders, and band members, the fans are a different animal altogether.
“You know everyone is going to be drunk. I don’t drink but I figured I’d to try and get into the S-zone for homecoming last year. Oh man. You constantly worry about the drunk bro behind you throwing up his Crown Russe and nachos on you. Baby freshmen are laughing hysterically about the flask they snuck in and spill it trying to get it into a cup. My friends and I oogled at more people in front of us as they just picked fights with anyone around. Oh and if you’re small you have drunk people thinking it’s a brilliant idea to grab and throw you. I thought maybe I was being a sour puss but I wasn’t really off the mark with worrying about people tailgating for six-plus hours and getting rowdy together.”
Would Rather Stay Home/Do Something Else
Some think that, while the games are fun and a big part of the culture that allows them to do so, game time was a prime time to drink and tailgate, and even better yet is doing these or other things in the comfort of their own home.
“I never went to a game as a student because, after spending two years at a branch campus back in the 80s, I was finally free to drink anytime I wanted when I got to UP, so I decided (stupidly) it was more important to tailgate versus leaving all that beer for football (little did I know the team was winning championships),” alumnus Craig Mosenson said of his time at Penn State. Mosenson also said that if he could go back in time, he’d force himself to go to the games (and kick himself for not doing so in the first place).
When Kristina Foldes was a student, she said the prices of student season tickets deterred her, but she preferred to watch the game full and in good company anyway. “I would still tailgate, but then head to a friends after. I found it 10 times more fun to hang at a friends place with a bunch of people. Not only could I drink beer when I wanted…. there was snacks! So much more comfortable.”
Recent grad Ezra Goldstein preferred to stay home for the games, using his free time to take advantage of the peace and quiet. “For me gamedays were an opportunity to get all of my work done while all of my friends were at the game. I could sleep in while everyone woke up early to tailgate, walk around basically a ghost town for lunch, and then come home to do homework with the game as background noise.”
Simon Ince, a current student, prefers to spend gamedays being adventurous. “During the homecoming game I ran a Spartan Race, I’ve skipped games to go to West Virginia to attend a ski competition in the middle of high street a few weeks ago, I’ve gone whitewater kayaking during a game this season, and spent hours jet skiing instead of going,” Ince said. “I have absolutely nothing against those die hard fans who wouldn’t miss a game for the world, I just am not that type of person and would rather be out doing things adventurous and fun in my mind!”
Senior Matthew Mallis bought season tickets through his junior year, but decided this year to use his time to help others instead of spending Saturday in Beaver Stadium.
“I started my own club last year called Superheroes for Kids and spent my weekends trying to build that into something successful. I guess I succeeded because we now have over 20 members and have had multiple events every weekend for the last two months and we have only been around for a year. This year many of our events were on Saturdays and that means missing the games. Of course bringing inspiration, hope, and a smile to child is more than worth it. We actually just got approved to be a state recognized non-profit organization and will now be known as Alliance of Heroic Hearts. Penn State football is one of a kind, but my true passion lies elsewhere.”
Carolina Franco said that although she’s attended games, being a foreign student, American football isn’t really her cup of tea.
“I’m not American, and I still have no idea what’s going on. When I do go, it’s mostly because of the atmosphere, not because I enjoy or understand American football,” Franco said.
Franco added that a football game can take a long time, something she’s not used to. “Football is a slow game. Since I’m from Brazil, I’m used to watching 90 minute soccer matches and going home. I don’t understand how people stay there for three hours. And it’s even worse when it’s rainy and/or cold.”
I think we can all agree, no matter how much we love Penn State football, the rain and cold put a damper on the experience.
A spring 2015 grad, Matt, had the unique experience of having his last Penn State football game (during his freshman year) be Joe Paterno’s 409th win against Illinois.
“Part of me says that was kind of a cool note to end on… why go back?”
Matt also mentioned that part of him lost faith in the football program when the scandal broke shortly after the Illinois game. “It was not hard to divorce my short-lived football fandom and I haven’t really looked back.”
In addition to all of these reasons, many responders also noted the cost of tickets, student section or otherwise, are too outrageous to warrant making the trip to games. When you add in parking, food, airfare, gas, and lodging, making the trip to Beaver Stadium just isn’t worth it for everyone.
We hope this gave you a look into what some of the Penn Staters who aren’t at Beaver Stadium do during football games. If you avoid games for a different reason, let us know in the comments — everyone’s reason is unique and different, even though we were only able to highlight a few.