Finally, it’s “Football time in Tennessee.” These words echoed from the mouth of longtime Tennessee broadcaster John Ward for decades as the Volunteers took the field each Saturday afternoon. Except this season, the first time we get to say that legendary phrase is on a Thursday night. What?
Look, I get it. A prime time, week night game is the perfect opportunity to showcase Tennessee’s new head coach Josh Heupel and the 100th year of Neyland Stadium. Against a bad Bowling Green team, the Vols’ fast-paced offense should flourish with the eyes of Vol fans and college football on them.
From the perspective of a student that will be on campus all day before the game, a weekday matchup is just the worst.
Parking is already a well-documented issue on the UT campus, but with Thursday now being a game day, those season-ticket holders who fork out lots of money for premium parking get first dibs.
The students, like myself, are forced to move our cars to a building a mile and a half outside the main campus area by 3 p.m. if we need to stay on campus for anything important, say class.
Not to mention Neyland Stadium is returning to full capacity, which is great during the actual game, but pregame is a mess. Some 102,455 people will be on campus for the game, with a majority of them arriving hours early to tailgate, after strict limitations were placed on it a year ago due to the pandemic.
And you know very well, a good portion of these fans won’t save their first alcoholic beverage for the 8 p.m. kickoff. Navigating to my 4 p.m. class — which has not been moved online — will not be very fun in these conditions. Hopefully, it is not in one of the buildings that gets locked on game days — because that is going to happen too.
It’s obviously all about the money. That’s really the main reason why any decisions are made in sports these days. A prime time matchup with a new coach and a special stadium celebration will draw in the ad revenue and a lot of it.
I would normally have no problem with that. College football can schedule a game whenever, if someone is willing to pay for it. But this decision seems especially egregious to me, a spit in the face to all the college students who already pay a ridiculous amount in tuition just to go to the university, not to mention a required, nearly $200 parking pass on top of that.
Maybe I’m just an ungrateful student who should get over himself. Maybe I should just enjoy the fact that football is finally here and is essentially back to normal. These weeknight prime time games are hardly a new invention, after all.
But, I’m not alone. In my talking to professors, other students and even co-workers here at the Beacon, the sentiment is shared. Let’s keep college football on Saturdays.
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