This Friday's Wall Street Journal published an intriguing article by Hannah Karp regarding the lack of student attendance at SEC football games. It appears that alumni are furious because coveted game tickets are going to students who don't even bother to use them. As a result, entire sections of seats are left empty even during key SEC games. What further incenses the alums is that season tickets can sell for over $3000. Such flagrant disregard for history and lack of respect for tradition is, according to the older grads, intolerable.
So the universities have put out the word---"use it or lose it." Now comes the dilemma. Which is worse-- empty seats that enrage generous benefactors or sloppy drunk frat boys who throw up in the stands and spill bourbon and Coke on expensive furs while en route to the loo?. The compromise arrived at by the fraternities is to turn to that eternal civilizer of the males species (forget the Eve story)--woman. Young men are encouraged to bring dates to the games, to dress appropriately, and to behave in what at least vaguely resembles a gentlemanly fashion.
Spirit points are given to fraternities with the most members in attendance at games, and other incentives are offered by the universities and the fraternities themselves to encourage gentlemanly participation. One of the most entertaining parts of Karp's article focuses on how the men chose which women will have the honor of accompanying them. (Photo courtesy of Erick S. Lessor for the WSJ)
There are certain criteria, of course. His date must be able to care for him if he is unable to walk after the game, but she must not, herself, be unable to walk after the game. She must not chatter during the game. She must either know something about football or be willing to learn, but she must not know too much. "It's emasculating," declared one student. Apparently, the the role of woman still includes pretending the man is smarter than she is.
How do the women feel about this situation? A coveted seat at an SEC game is still a prize, and women are willing to put up with quite a bit for the privilege of attending---especially if the invitation includes tickets to the Auburn-Alabama game. I suspect people have even been killed for tickets to the "Iron Bowl."
Women, also, have standards for accepting or rejecting the game "date." Men who get too drunk to make it to the game, men who ignore them, or those who abandon them after the game are blacklisted. But because fraternity guys get the best seats and throw the best tailgate parties, women are willing to put up with more than just a little discomfort.
Speaking of discomfort, years ago when I attended the SEC games with my parents (War Eagle), game day was a dress up affair. One wore one's best bib and tucker: diamond earrings, spike heels (how did they ever climb those bleacher steps), and the requisite mink coat when the weather turned nippy (never mind that it was usually soaked in bourbon by the fourth quarter.) Those were the days, and it looks as if some fraternities plan on bringing them back--at least for now.
For more about Alabama-Auburn football rivalry, check out "Confessions of an Auburn Fan."
---Penne J. Laubenthal