Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Would the real Pitt fans please stand up.

I'll tell you what my friends, going to Michigan State was a real eye opener. I always knew our tradition lacked behind, but I had no idea how terrible it was. I don't think that Pitt should strive to "be like" another school in terms of fans and support. I believe that Pitt fans should go about it in a unique way. That's what real tradition is. I really think that Pitt (we the students and the athletics dept) may have the wrong approach to creating a better fan base and home atmosphere. Now I'm not criticizing anyone working in the A.D., but think about this. Every time we have had things forced down our throat, it hasn't worked.

The first thing that comes to mind for me is the Panther Zone. I was at some of the meetings where this was being planned out and to my knowledge it isn't as great of a success as it should be. I have never gone to the Panther Zone once, but that is only because I choose to wait at the gate to ensure a front row seat. I'm sure there are a variety of other reasons why other people don't go. The only time I have heard of the Panther Zone filling up was when Tony D and the 76 national championship team was there.

In addition to the Panther Zone, we've had Walt Harris telling us to make noise every time the Panther growls, we've been given tons of Panther Pitt towels, Code blue shirts are being sold at 5 bucks a pop to students, and yet none of this catches on.

This is where I blame myself. I am always trying to come up with ways to improve Pitt's tradition. When I started to push for the Cat Basket to become more recognizable I wanted to make sure everyone knew about it and thought that maybe it could be used for football. Now, my attitude is changed. We will be receiving our Cat Basket shirts on Monday Sept 24, and I will be giving them to people who have asked for them. I am not going to try and make Cat Basket the Oakland Zoo of football. Rather, what I am going to do is wear my shirt, cheer for Pitt, and continue to use this medium as a way to provide discussion, opinions, and news about The University of Pittsburgh football team.

I hate to keep mentioning Michigan State, but it is the freshest in my mind so I keep coming back to it. During their Alma mater everyone puts their arms around each other and sways back and forth. The visual effect of that is amazing. Right before kickoff, the student section passes down two huge banners from the top of the section to the bottom. One says Go Green, the other says Go White. They also have this tomahawk chop motion that it looks like they copied from FSU, but everyone in the student section is doing it. Also, their alumni clap, sing, and cheer along.

C'mon Pitt fans where are you? How many of you can sing Pitt's Alma mater? Do you know what the actual words are to the bridge in the fight song? Have you seen the students run on the field with the Hail to Pitt flag?

I really wish Pitt would find a way to boycott tailgating in all of the parking lots around the stadium. I'm sorry if it would take away from your game day experience, but I think that people do not understand how large the number is of students who come down to tailgate, get black out drunk and pass out in the parking lot or just end up heading home. Maybe even have just a season ticket holder or alumni section where tailgating (with alcohol) is allowed and ban adult beverages from every other section.

It really is sad that when the Michigan State gates opened there were about 2000 students waiting to get in. Here at Pitt, we have about 11 and I can name all 11 of them who are there.

So what will it take for Pitt to become a school with a good atmosphere and tradition? Well first off, these fair weather fans need to become everyday fans. Against Miami, WVU, VaTech, and Louisville, Pitt has had some of the greatest crowds I have ever seen. I really hate fair weather fans and their attitude of coming to games just to see the opponent or to try and get on tv, but at least they bring great enthusiasm. We really need those fans to turn into full time diehards. My guess is that there is about 10k - 15k of die hard fans in the stadium who aren't afraid to stand up, clap, and make noise. It's just a shame when you have the idiots around you telling you to sit down and be quiet. I don't want to sound like a dick......wait......yes I do. When I finally graduate from Pitt after 10 great years, I will be a season ticket holder for Mens and Womens BBall and for Football. If at anytime someone tells me to be quiet or to sit down, I'll tell them to go home and watch it on TV that way I won't be there to bother them. If people are so offended by those around them, STOP COMING TO GAMES! No one is forcing you to be there, and if you do show up, you obviously have an interest in the team, so SUPPORT THEM!

What I really think needs to happen is more students need to get creative. We need something to organize the student section. Something we can all get behind to have our own unique traditions. Think about what we have, Lets Go Pitt, PI-TT (for bball only), and that's about it. We stole the Hail To Pitt flag idea. The drum major touching his hat down to the the ground is not unique to us. We lost the bridge to the fight song. The hey song isn't played anymore. Our intro video is eerily similar to MSU's (I was hurt). And we have nothing to unite us. I love coming to games and seeing people wear steelers jersey's or just regular clothes with out any blue, gold, or Pitt stuff on it.

This is my challenge to you fans. Create some tradition. Lets have a chant that we can do that is unique to us. Come up with an idea for a video that we can rally behind like the "Spartan's what is your profession?" clip, find a way to get everyone to just at least clap along with the fight song. Panther fans, I will continue to my party to try to create and inspire better tradition for Pitt, however it won't work if it is just one person coming up with everything. We need to work together and unite. Make Pitt football the most exciting thing in the fall. Make it so that if you are not at the game you feel left out. Make it that people want to come to games and want to cheer for their school just because they love it.


PittFan said...

The last VaTech game at Heinz Field was amazing. Mr. Cynic himself (Bob Smizik) wrote an article about that game day atmosphere (http://www.pittsburghpostgazette.com/pg/03317/239380.stm). That was an amazing game against a big opponent (with some added hatred because of the ACC raid). Being in a pro-sports town Pitt is already second fiddle. So to fill up the stadium Pitt must begin to win and have some good non-conference games. If Pitt is a legit top-10 team, the media buzz around Pittsburgh would be incredible, I am convinced of that. However, I agree, until we get to that point (I believe Wanny has us going in the right direction…Not My Fault Walt left the D&O-line bare) Pitt fans that attend games need to contribute to the atmosphere. At the Grambling game, when the band was doing pre-game I was standing and clapping and a guy told me to sit down (YES during the pre-game….needless to say I was furious). At the MSU game a few days ago I was going nuts screaming Let’s Go Pitt trying to get people around me to cheer (by the way Pitt had a nice traveling crowd on Saturday) and half of the time people just looked at me and did nothing. I sat down in disgust a few times and said to my friends “I hate most Pitt fans”. Why do most of our fans sit on their hands? During the beginning of the EMU game I heard boos because we went three and out on our first offensive possession. I was flabbergasted. Boos 3 minutes into the game???? Sorry I am venting. Well, from now on I am going to be loud and screaming and if people tell me to sit I am going to get louder and cheer for Pitt. Pitt fans look in the mirror…home-field advantage is important, help your team!

One very classy thing during the Pitt-MSU games was how half of the Pitt crowd in attendance chanted “Let’s Go Pitt” at the end of the game when most of out players were walking off the field. The players noticed that and some of them held up their helmets to out section. Every MSU fan around us looked at the Pitt section and wondered why we were cheering when our team lost…it was very classy…I was proud of how Pitt played and gave it their all.

Sorry for the ‘stream of consciousness.’

J Jones said...

Great points guys. I was shocked at how much the MSU fans knew about their tradition and loved their team. Watching their student section react was great. Our fans need to realize that we need to create an atmosphere at Heinz Field every game.

Listen everybody who tailgates and blacks out before the game, I drink more than you could ever imagine. Hang up the drinking for a little bit because if your going home before the game starts don't come. Tailgating should be a celebration of the game not another chance to get drunk after a Friday night.

There is a problem with every section at Heinz Field and our fans need to get into the game and be engaged. This is our school and we need to take a stock in football tradition.

Anonymous said...

Our only real tradition is being complete dicks to opposing fans (WVU does that well too.)

That crap is not necessary.

Anonymous said...

Way to go Cat Basket!
As a lurker on this site, I have to agree with every word you said about who exactly the Pitt fans are.
I am 53 and female and I live and die with the Panthers, really don't care about the Steelers, my heart is with Pitt. The group I hang out with is between 50-68 in age, woman included. We are die hard and I think the reason we come is because we love Pitt, the history, and hope to see them come back to prominance before we die.
We are there no matter the weather.
I do believe the alumni, and friends of Pitt are the backbone of the fan base. The students do not support it as much as I think they should. It is a shame that we cannot fill up two or more sections with students. The excuse to come to the North Side is just that, an excuse. If students can travel to South Side (where we are from), the Strip or wherever to drink, they certainly can come to Heinz. Hell, they get a free ride! Then they leave early which galls me personally. This year they move the band and now it looks more empty. That is not acceptable! This is your team, your fellow students and an experience that will last only a short time. Be there for them - to the end!
The Athletic Department does not treat the Panther Club members with respect either, they should appreciate all that donate, not just the big donors. That alienates the fan base also, but there is nothing you can do about that.
I attended Jan Wannstadt's Football for Women clinic last week and three players were there, Thatcher, Vangas and Conor Lee. The thing that they all said emphatically was how fired up they got when they did the Panther Crawl, from the bus to the stadium. More of us need to be there.
When we travel to other venues and you feel you are the underdog and need to get wild and crazy, that is the feeling we need to get at home. You loudly and proudly heard the Pitt fans at MSU - do that at home! T shirts aren't going to do it.
At PSU, the crowd is there to be "seen" and the only people that are cheering are the students section - thousands strong. To be honest, they have 100K but that stadium is not loud because their alum sit on their hands too.
The Pitt students must lead the way because we do feed off of their enthusiam. That is why you are in school, to learn to be a leader. Go for it.
thanks for letting me vent, Hail To Pitt.

Derek said...

DPJ... nicely put. I forgot about the "Go Green" and "Go White" banners... some of the tradition and school spirit shown at MSU just flat out gave me chills

DPJ said...

I just want something to be proud of, something to give the team extra motivation, and something that is unique to Pitt.....thats all i want.

Anonymous said...

More people would come to the games and be better fans if we had the script back.

MBK said...

My question is: who makes those decisions? I know the Oakland Zoo has a president, a friend of mine, as well as weekly meetings. If the Panther Pitt people have these things, I've never heard of them. Also, if they are organized in an efficient manner, they need to start taking actions and actually doing things that will make our football tradition special.

I will say, most of the time, the only kids who know the alma mater are the bandies, and the people in choir, and they get made fun of for being bandies, etc. I would like to think that PITT means something to you that you would actually exert energy on gameday or any other day for that matter. The thing is, is it really about you (the "fan" that just sits there, telling others to sit down) or is it about something bigger? Are you just being selfish? If you are, grow up and have some pride in what you do.

Anonymous said...

I'm also a frequent lurker to the site and this post caught my attention. I am a current PITT student and I have my own theory about the lack of support. It may be controversial, but whatever. Recently, Pitt has strived to become one of the best academic schools around by raising their admission standards. In doing this, they have excluded a number of kids who would be more interested in going to a football game rather than staying in and studying. It's not a bad thing, but it is just a total difference in the type of students. And the only rowdy, loud students are the ones who use Saturdays as a continuation of Friday night. They go to the tailgates, or drink in their rooms before the games, come after kickoff and then leave in the 3rd quarter because they could really care less, and they don't know where they are. I can only name a few of my friends who actually follow recruiting and the team. And they are only local kids who have followed Pitt athletics since childhood, likewise for me. It's a problem and I have no solution to fix it. Maybe win and let the bandwagoners take over, until we lose at least.