The home team is off to a great start this season. Equipped with a relatively competitive schedule, four of our games will be featured on ESPN-U via live broadcast or podcast for this semester.
Three out of four of those are scheduled for a Thursday contest, which garners live national exposure for both teams on ESPN-U.
National exposure is all well and good, but how do those students that are the lifeblood of what makes college football, benefit from a midweek game? Or more importantly, what about those faithful fans who must return to work the next morning?
At first glance, a Thursday football game may seem to scare some fans away. But even at smaller schools where football is king, like our own, attendance numbers don’t seem to parish. The first Thursday contest held at FAMU in 2007, did draw a healthy crowd of about 18,000, even with torrential rain.
On the other hand, it is a fiscally sound decision on behalf of the administration and athletic director.
Realistically, especially at more football-crazed schools (i.e. Florida State), can academic conformity principles really compete with overwhelming school spirit on a Thursday night? Ironically, Thursday games come at a period during the week when students are vulnerable and searching for reasons to start their weekend early.
A 2006 survey of 21,000 student athletes, given by the NCAA, showed that football players spent an average of 44.8 hours on athletic activities. That’s a little longer than the average workweek. So, along with a full course load of twelve hours or more, and possibly a part time job, how do those students fare with standard 5- year matriculation rates?
Are scholar-athletes on some type of special academic amnesty plan that the rest of the student body is unaware of, like the one we often accused high school jocks of receiving? Or, do university athletic departments use Thursday games to pub their school brands at the expense of the student athletes’ academic good standing?
At any rate, university athletic directors should consider these poor guys when scheduling frantic schedules like the home team has this year.
Jason Lawrence is Deputy Opinions Editor. He can be reached at email@example.com