A fancy item, a fancy idea

Homemade pocket square achievement badge unlocked:

No one said a thing. No one noticed it was homemade. Given the few people I see, and how focused they are, probably no one noticed. But the color adds a nice touch, and I got spend part of an afternoon making three of these. I’ll have to make a few more. Perhaps next week.

Today, at the office, and this evening, in the television studio. The sports gang produced two sports shows. They’ll be online tomorrow and over the weekend.

On one show they showed off the university’s new golf course. It was due to open this year but, then, you know, Covid. But they are apparently taking reservations from the public right now. And in the program you can see some of our broadcasters play the course. They really bragged about the experience. I guess I’ll have to dust off my sticks.

My clubs are dusty.

The second show was the talk show, and they discussed the best college sports traditions. Things to do, mascots, music, experiences, and so on.

And it brought to mind a good idea for a class on sports culture. Here’s the short version: You feature guests from various other college programs, athletic directors, ambassador types, foundation people. You research the fan experience to get an overview of the atmosphere of the place. And then you go take part in the game day experience, not as a fan, but as an observer of the operation.

Think of it. We go to see the same show every time. The tailgate. The souvenir place. The must-have restaurant or bar. The game, and all the attendant ceremonies before-during-and-after the game. And you go back, again and again. The only thing that changes are the players and the game itself.

You may argue that that is why you spend the money and go and do all of those things, and you’re right! But you also go for the other things, too. The whole experience is part of your personal cultural journey into the collective experience. It’s all a part of the pageantry, brought on when ol’ State U comes to town. Universities put on a great show. The band has to be over here by this time, the other thing starts precisely 10 minutes later and then you’re in your seats for the precisely worded announcement from the PA, it’s all a part of your scheduled program. It’s all a part of the culture. I’ve seen enough, and worked in a few, to know a good show when I see one. And the ones that keep bringing you back those are good shows. And they all feature a “if it ain’t broke” mentality. We like that sameness, that familiarity, that timely link to a timeless time that we’re all trying to cling to.

So what if you did an examination of your own school’s setup? And then did the same with two or three geographically close programs to see how the other guys do it? What a class experience that would be. The guys tonight were talking about this and that, and it’s all a surface-level appreciation. Some of it they have maybe experienced, or only read about or watched on TV. But they don’t know what prompted that song to be a thing, or how it came to be there, and who really deserves the credit.

And, as college sports are grounded in that sameness, the tradition of it all, you need to be able to appreciate those things to know what you’re taking part in. Here’s my forever question: when does something contrived become a tradition? We’d like to think our favorite elements of this sort of pageantry evolved organically, on our own fan terms, but you’re mistaken. They started deliberately from somewhere. The selectivity wasn’t necessarily ours. It’s a great way to see it, and it’s a clever way to sell it to us, as appreciators of the old ways and all that. When does something contrived become a tradition? To answer that you have to ask: does anyone really remember, and do we individually know? And from the program’s standpoint, why is it this way? Because it works and the people want it that way. The entire experience would be thinner if you took away those favored elements. The whole trip is the experience, then, not just the game.

So, from the perspective of students of sociology or anthropology or people who want to go into sports administration or operations, this is a solid idea.

It will never go anywhere.

Anyway, the TV shows they produced tonight should be fun. I’ll put them here when they get them online.

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