EMU forces football fans to pay for football
Earlier this week, Carter wrote a thoughtful analysis of the increased ticket prices and new parking fees for EMU football games. He rightly points out that EMU still ranks among the lowest in prices of all BCS schools. Over the years, EMU football has been nothing if not a cheap date.
This has been out of necessity. EMU’s attendance problem has been well documented; it takes only rudimentary knowledge of economics to understand that higher prices will drive down attendance. EMU has therefore been forced to keep prices low. Economics also tells us that you can not charge more for an inferior product in a saturated market. Over the years, EMU football has been nothing if not an inferior product.
Are we to be galled at the price increases? The new $5 parking fee? It may surprise many of you, but I say no. When it comes to funding of the football program and Athletic Department, it is time for them to carry their own water, at least as much as possible. Ticket sales, parking fees, extra deposits so you can get the tingly thrill of a generic monthly e-mail from Chris Creighton or Heather Lyke — these are examples of football fans supporting the football program. That is probably how it should be.
At EMU, and to be fair most of the MAC, football is subsidized by students. Whether that is a good idea or not is a different column. If the increase in ticket prices and parking fees shift some of that burden away from the students, that is not a bad thing and we should therefore accept the price increases as necessary.
Having said that, does anyone really think that EMU students will see some kind of reduced burden in carrying the football program?
I’m told that winning will solve all of this. EMU President Susan Martin says they will “fill that stadium.” The first empirical act to “fill that stadium” is to raise ticket prices. I know we are supposed to be slathering up in a big tub of Era of Excellence butter, but forgive me if I want to see results on the football field. Like I’ve said before, we don’t need an era. EMU football fans will be satisfied with four quarters of excellence.
Chris Creighton seems to be doing a fine job, and is a very positive public face for EMU football. Let’s be realistic, though, he hasn’t coached one quarter of a football game at EMU. We don’t know what he is capable of as a coach.
More than a win-loss record, the very future of EMU football is at stake for Creighton. If he succeeds, then it has been proven that it can be done and EMU football will march on. If the Era of Excellence fails, then it may be curtains for EMU football as it exists today.
Ticket price increases, parking fees, $400,000 salaries (plus bonuses), a bloated Athletic Department. Something will have to give. Creighton has my support for the next five years. Barring a Ron English-esque 2-22 start in his first two seasons, I will see that support through.
If, despite the best efforts of Chris Creighton, Heather Lyke, and Susan Martin, football continues to exist in a morass, then EMU needs to either drop to FCS or disband football altogether.
Football should be fun, it should bring the EMU community together. If it isn’t doing that, then what is the purpose? Football at EMU does not have some kind of inherent right to permanent existence. Football does not have the right to be a black hole, sucking money away from student services or academic opportunities.
If keeping this program on track while Creighton tries to build a winner means increased ticket prices and parking fees, so be it. There is nothing wrong with making football fans pay for football. It will be up to EMU season ticket holders and fans to decide if they are throwing bad money after good.