Monday, September 5, 2011

Want to know what it's like to attend 1/2 a UW Badgers football game with me?

Although I stayed for the whole game, you only get the experience of attending a half-game with me because

(a) my phone died at halftime, so no more pictures, videos, or texting my kids to ask them if the person I thought was Erin Andrews really was Erin Andrews, only to be shocked by Oldest Daughter's revelation that Oldest viscerally hates Erin Andrews. (I kind of do, too), and

(b) Wisconsin's continued pursuit of the Rose Bowl rather than a national championship means that Wisconsin continues to schedule nonconference games against opponents like UNLV, guaranteeing them 4 preseason wins and thus 6 wins overall and a bowl game someplace warm.

I'll explain throughout the post. Enjoy the pictures -- and videos!

To get to a Wisconsin game, you need to park somewhere in the general vicinity of Madison, Wisconsin. I began the night at my office, which is on Capitol Square, which is only about a mile from Camp Randall. I was going with my boss/partner (he owns more of the business than I do), and he suggested we drive down and park nearer the stadium rather than walk from our offices.

I agreed, 'cause he's my boss, and we went and parked here:

... which is approximately as far from Camp Randall stadium in the other direction as our office was to begin with. But we'd have the fun of battling traffic to look forward to after the game!

Note the Badger fans thronging in the distance of that picture. That's a residential neighborhood, nearly a mile from the game itself... 1 hour before game time.

It's also a very expensive residential neighborhood. If I paid $6,000+ a year in property taxes alone, I'd be dismayed to see that in my yard every weekend.

About Wisconsin's complacency:

Wisconsin's a good program -- probably the best in the Big 10 right now-- but they're complacent the way Green Bay was back in the 1970s and 1980s; having fans who will root with you through Forrest Gregg's coaching (Packers) and the veer offense (Badgers) makes you tend to run in place as an organization, which is what Wisconsin's doing; they were within shouting distance of a national championship twice in the past two years -- but for Wisconsin to get a #1 and hoist the BCS trophy, they need someone else to screw up; last year, they had no chance, really, because the NCAA was determined to let Cam Newton win the Heisman and the BCS, ethics and rules be damned.

(Do you think it's a coincidence that the most crooked player in recent history won all of the NCAA's top honors last year and they started cracking down now on programs? I don't.)("Cracking down" by NCAA terms, which means "punishing players and fans who had nothing to do with the infraction while letting the infractors off")

Nearer the game, the crowds get worse. After 20 minutes of walking (and three Recall Walker signs!) we could see Camp Randall -- named for the civil war camp that was located in Wisconsin back then, because even in the 1860s they had earmarks and so it made sense to put a military base about 17,000 miles from the fighting.

We stopped off for a bite to eat, our choices being (at this location) bratwurst, hamburgers, middle-eastern something-or-other, and "stuff fried in hot oil."

We went with bratwursts, extra onions and relish. Hey, it's your fault if you have to sit next to me for three hours but you offer to buy me a brat.

On the subject of NCAA infractions, I wholly support what the NFL is trying to do with Terrell Pryor - -suspend him from the NFL for NCAA violations. While I think college players should be paid whatever the market should bear (keep in mind I also think that nobody should make more than $200,000 per year, so the market should be ordered not to bear more than that), right now the rules are that they can't be paid, but rule breakers get to screw things up for those who come after them.

So punish away, NFL! Do the NCAA's dirty work for it! While owners and colleges continue to get rich off young men's work, and people who make $25,000 a year will voluntarily give thousands to people who make $27,000,000 per year!

America! F*** Yeah!

Sorry. Got overwhelmed there.

Here is the World's Worst Sculpture:

It is supposed to be a pile of footballs. It looks like a giant poop.

We're still not in the game yet, mind you. We have to get through a crowd of people wearing red. I was wearing red, too, but as I only own one Badger shirt, and as that's a sweatshirt that says "Bucky" which I got for $5 on sale, and as it was 100 degrees (with the heat index, which I don't understand), I had on my "Flash" t-shirt, which is red, too.

Then there's this guy:

Right after I snapped that picture, "The King's" wife gave me a dirty look and moved in front of him to block me from more pictures of him. I'm a paparazzi!

Also, did she not expect people to look at him? Don't let him out of the house like that, Old Lady. If you're going to dress weird, I'm going to stare and take pictures. It's my God-given right. (Same goes for girls in skimpy tops and short skirts.)

Here's the set of Van Wilder:

Just kidding! Those are the people who will be hired to be your boss in three years. Be nice to them now, and secretly download the pictures of them barfing on some girl for use during your next annual review.

Those people live across the street from the stadium, so they're partying no matter what on Saturdays.

We're still not in the stadium: We were in Gate 4, where the media enter. I saw a local big shot who I recognized as "some guy I've seen on TV." (I'm not good with names.)

More about Wisconsin's national ambitions: College programs exist to make money. Wisconsin fans guarantee that the program will make money so long as it wins about 98% of its games. The stands were packed for this game, with Wisconsin favored to win by 37 1/2 before kickoff, a point spread that had gone up from 25 earlier in the week. If you know about point spreads (as I do) that means that too many people figured Wisconsin would easily win by 25 -- and it wasn't until Wisconsin had to give up 37 1/2 points that half the bettors took UNLV. (Point spreads stabilize when 1/2 the people, more or less, take each side. A spread that's moving shows too many people taking the side it's moving towards.)

So what's in it for Wisconsin The Money-Making Football Program scheduling competitive games against national powers -- the thing they need to do to have a legitimate, nobody-else-needs-to-lose shot at #1?

Nothing. Some teams, like Boise State, genuinely want a shot at number one but nobody will play them (because it's a trap game for them), while other schools, like Wisconsin, could really care less about being Number One -- but may just stumble backasswards into it out of luck some year.

That is the only problem with the current college football structure. Forget playoffs; playoffs aren't inherently better or more fair than the BCS poll -- just ask Saints fans from last year. (Enjoy losing to a 7-9 program run by a complete jerkoff/souless hideous monster, New Orleans?) The BCS makes every game count for almost every school -- one loss, you're done -- which is great.

But the other bowl games wreck it for fans who want their team to really compete. Wisconsin will never bother really trying for a national championship so long as the fans are content to go to Pasadena and pretend the Rose Bowl means anything more than a vacation for them.

Now we're inside the stadium:

And we were quickly prevented from finding our seats because the Band had to enter, which was fine by me because, sure, college football, yeah, okay, but the UW Marching Band is one of my favorite things in the entire world.

I love these guys/girls. Especially the tubas. I want to play the tuba:

With the band out, we could have stayed to watch the players enter, too, but, eh, what's the point? They're not the Band. We went and found our seats:

And the crowd began going crazy and the Band came out again:

(That's the student section, which we were right next to. They're golf clapping, I think.)

This guy:

Sat near us on the benches in Camp Randall, where each butt is allotted (no lie!) 6" of space, which is hilarious when you consider that this is a Wisconsin game, and there was a stand selling things fried in hot oil right outside the game.

I couldn't decide, all game long, if the Red Hat "lady" next to the guy was a guy or a girl. Either way, (s)he wasn't passing.

This is the National Anthem. If you want the jets, fast-forward to about 1:40.

It was actually more cool watching them role up the flag -- but don't tell everybody else in America that I said that. I love the flag! Don't send the NSA!

The players came in to Where The Streets Have No Name:

which I assume was chosen for the stirring guitar intro, and not for the lyrics, which start out stirring but eventually move into the apocalyptic, with poison rain, and suddenly

the city's aflood
and our love turns to rust
We're beaten and blown by the wind
And trampled in dust

Not the kind of thing you want your team to be thinking about. I assume. I'm not a college football coach, like Bret Bielema, who shows off his smarts all the time, in ways you wouldn't imagine, like "wearing a windbreaker zipped up to the chin even though game time kickoff temperatures were 90 degrees and he was obviously close to falling over due to heat."

Bret Bielema always wears a windbreaker zipped tightly up. My guesses at the game for what was underneath that jacket that he wants hidden were:

1. UNLV Runnin' Rebels t-shirt.
2. Portrait of UW athletic director Barry Alvarez shaved into his chest hair.

That's an image you won't be able to shake.

Here's the players, warming up, and possibly burnin' down love... it's all [they] can do.

I was trying for a shot of hot new quarterback Russell Wilson, but I got this lady, instead:

Note that that is not a fake mohawk. You've got to really commit to that hairstyle.

I did get Wilson, who may disprove my theory that Badger fans always like the next quarterback. Going back to Darrell Bevell (who now appears to want to go to Hell because he's working for the Seahawks), Badger fans never like the guy that's actually named the starter -- they always like the next guy.

I thought Scott Tolzien blew that theory up last year, what with his great play and beating Ohio State and all that... but that was only temporary because all the talk this summer was about how the Badgers finally had a quarterback.

Sorry, Scott Tolzien! You didn't know it, but there already was a Next Guy! And with him:

The sky is the limit. Why, UW might even make it to the Rose Bowl!

Then it was game time, and for about 00:08, the game was in doubt. Then the Badgers caught the opening kick.

And I began to focus on things like who is in this mysterious skybox?

It appeared to be more fancily-decorated than the others, and was occupied, but minimally-- from time to time, a shadowy figure would appear at the window and watch:

I was at a loss for who it could be most of the game, but eventually I figured it out: The Band, at halftime did a tribute to Elvis Presley, which I thought was odd given that Elvis is linked, a bit, with Vegas, and UNLV is linked, a bit, with Vegas (they did not do "Viva Las Vegas") but I finally realized:

It was Elvis in that sky box! ELVIS!

What finally made me realize I was right was that the PA guy, after halftime, said that for UW fans, "Elvis has never left the building." So they're keeping him hostage there!

(I blame the BCS.)

The rest of the game was anticlimactic: the Badgers rolled up an impressive score, their second string couldn't hold my attention, about 60% of the action took place on the other end of the field, which, combined with the fact that I can't tell what I'm supposed to be watching without the camera pointing me at it, was a strong argument for television-over-live.

And I got to spend my time wondering this. If I have a fully-functioning video camera in my phone, why does it take TWO GUYS to carry around TV equipment:

This was one of the few student moments that wasn't obscene. The second part, the a capella version, is better:

And there was cheerleading...

And tubas:

And Nick Toon, son of NFL legend (?) Al Toon. Nick went to Middleton High School and was teammates with The Boy for a while. Here he is at the end of a long reception.

And touchdowns were scored:

And photographers lined up in the end zone in case more touchdowns were scored:

And people milled around the sidelines:

And these people were, I think, the fans of the game, or something. I forget why I took their picture:

And then Maybe Erin Andrews walked by and I texted the kids but only Oldest Daughter responded, by saying that she hates Erin Andrews.

(I don't hate her, but I don't like her, either.)

And Wisconsin continued to score touchdowns. Here's (I think) the kick for extra point:

Here's your halftime score:

Here's a guy who won $1,000 by punting, passing, and kicking the ball down the field and then through the goal post:

And the Band!

And then my camera died. So you missed out on what I saw in the second half. But it wasn't much; we didn't even watch the game in the fourth quarter (although we stayed). Which raises two questions:

1. Do Wisconsin fans really like it when they pay full price for a game which is completely devoid of any suspense, and which in any event will be a win but will prevent them from really competing for the national championship, and

2. What does Elvis do when there's no game being played?

My guess is Sudoku.


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