I entered the Dev Nelson Press Box level of Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Nov. 5 at around 5:45 p.m. This was 45 minutes before K-State was scheduled to kick off their showdown with the Baylor Bears. As I surveyed the crowd, I was at a loss for words.
The phrases I heard as we commented on the lack of people in the stadium at that time sounded a little something like this:
“Don’t worry, everyone’s just running a little bit behind tonight.” Or maybe, “They’ll get here eventually, just look at the line of traffic backed up.”
Well, I figured that was probably correct. It was a Thursday night game after all. People had to put in a full day of work, or at least close to a full day, before they were allowed to take off and come to Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Or in the case of students, some possibly had classes that were running late into the afternoon or the evening, so they wouldn’t get there very early.
So I waited, and waited, and waited. By the time kickoff rolled around, I could not believe what I saw. The amount of empty seats, not only in the student section but also in the season ticket holder’s sections, was astonishing.
I continued, however, to give fans the benefit of the doubt and figured they would slowly trickle in as the game got underway. What happened, though, was the complete opposite.
Baylor held a 14-7 lead in the first half as they recovered a fumble from quarterback Joe Hubener. This is when fans began heading toward the exits… in a 14-7 football game! Do you really have so little faith in your team that you would leave the game while only trailing by one touchdown? Is that the kind of fans you are?
At halftime there was one section of students that was more than 50 percent full, and that was the section the band played in. Without the band, that section would have been just as empty as the rest of them.
Folks, this was a 14-point game at halftime. Who quits on their team when they are trailing the No. 2 team in the country by 14 points? This wasn’t the Oklahoma game. K-State wasn’t down 35-0 at halftime. When it’s a blowout that bad, then yes, leaving early is understandable. But 14 points?
This is not the stadium that K-State football is known for. There was once a time when this place was full, loud and rowdy no matter the situation. For example, people stayed through a game in 2011 where K-State beat Eastern Kentucky 10-7 with a K-State touchdown pass not coming until there was 1:39 left in the game. Over 50,000 people stayed in their seats from start to finish for Eastern Kentucky, and you can’t stay for Baylor in prime time? Even when this team isn’t getting blown out?
There can be certain situations where it only makes sense to take off early or not even come to the game. I myself am from Beloit, Kansas, which is 1 hour and 45 minutes away. Weeknight games have caused me to miss games before. I couldn’t make it to the North Dakota State game in 2013 or the Auburn game in 2014 since they were on weeknights and conflicted with other commitments I had. But my dad and my brother didn’t have any other commitments the night of the Baylor game and they stayed through the entire game. Even with the almost 2-hour drive home, they stuck it out until the end. So I ask you, especially those of you who live in Manhattan, what’s your excuse?
K-State has two home games left in this season. Excuses to miss both of them can already be heard from a mile away. The Iowa State game will give us excuses like, “Well, I wanted to get a head start on my Thanksgiving break so I didn’t go.” For the West Virginia game we will probably hear, “It was too cold to go!”
If you fall in this category of people who make up these excuses for missing those games, then fine. This team deserves better fans than that.
If you left this game early on Thursday, you quit on this team. Admit it. You quit on them. Bill Snyder wrote a letter to this student body just two weeks ago apologizing for his team’s performance.
“Please know that you are greatly appreciated and considered a major part of this football family,” Snyder wrote.
You hear that word? Family. Do you consider yourself to be part of this family? If you said yes to that then I ask you, where were you at the end of the game on Thursday night?