Where are the students?

November 21st, 2011

For the second-straight UH football home game, the student section was almost completely empty … even though they get free tickets and transportation from campus to the games. There are at least two popular theories as to why this is happening:

1) There has been a crackdown on underage drinking in the parking lot. I have a very good source who says student drinking in the parking lot was becoming a huge problem, so this is a viable theory.

2) An organized protest by the students because they feel they are being unfairly blamed for fights in the stadium. Theory 2 actually ties in with Theory 1. I could see where the students would feel persecuted if they’re just drinking and not fighting (not that I’m condoning underage drinking). Then there’s Josh Olbrich, the student who won a contest while attending the 11 p.m. UH basketball game last week and told me that there is a protest against the football games: A protest because “the team sucks.”

3) But click here for the real reason very few students are going to the football games. Why would anyone ever leave campus if it’s this much fun?

28 Responses to “Where are the students?”

  1. Yoda808:

    Hey Dave,

    Talked with a student at the game this weekend and asked him about this. He mentioned something about needing a special wristband for student tickets and basically the problem was that since the wristbands were difficult to get (or they just don’t know how to get them), many students have given up coming to games since they have to jump through so many hoops. Not sure how credible this is since it’s just the word of one student.

    I’m also not sure if this is something on the stadium side or UH’s side that is requiring this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was Aloha Stadium bureaucracy. It’s been my observation that properly credentialed people are being given the runaround more by stadium ushers this season than in season’s past. That is just my opinion though.

  2. Dave Reardon:

    Thanks Yoda. As a friend mentioned to me today, if the team were doing better there would be more students. But it sure is noticeable. Funny too, how as the game progresses people start to trickle in, probably from the upper deck.

  3. Isaac:


    One major reason is that the team isn’t doing that well. There are a lists of reasons why: the teams they play aren’t so great (Colorado, UC Davis, Utah State, New Mexico State, Fresno State), as the year progresses students don’t have the time to devote almost a whole saturday to go to the game, and too many drunk people just causing trouble. Plus it’s a trickle down effect. Most times students go to the game as a group, and if one person finds multiple reasons not to go, many times the others just follow. I just think it just hasn’t developed into a can’t miss experience for the students.

  4. Mr. B:

    There were less fans in the entire stadium on Saturday – not just the student section. Hawaii fans are bandwagon fans. In the first half, when Hawaii was down 17-0, all the people in my section were booing and saying, “Aloha McMackin!” Then, in the 2nd half, when Hawaii caught up and took the lead, the same people were cheering and clapping! They were cheering on the defense by repeatedly screaming D-E-F-E-N-S-E!! These were the same people who, only 20 minutes prior, wer BOOING the team! Unreal!!!

  5. concerned long time fan:

    I believe it’s a combination of several factors.

    1, the crackdown on underage drinking in the parking lot – our regular tailgate is next to the area where large numbers of students were gathering, playing beer pong, drinking etc.. Personally I never noticed any problems and I actually liked seeing students having a good time before the football game. (within reason) Recently, however, we have noticed about a dozen security guards and Sheriff Deputies camped out in this area to deter the students from congregating and drinking. Maybe the students just gave up because of this… I guess the crowd of students was getting too big?

    2. The parking rules. This enforcement of the parking rules has gotten ridiculous. Every game we have the same parking attendant roll up and threaten to make us take one of our tents down because we have one parking space (out of the 8 we are using) that doesn’t have a car parked in it. Last game, when he did this, we could count over 200 empty spaces near us. Plus, even when the parking lot is full, we encourage single cars looking for a parking spot to park in the “odd empty space” near us…anyway, word on the street is these parking attendants have been even more rude and threatening to the students who used to park near us.

    3. The team – quite frankly, this is the worst I’ve seern this team since the Von Appen years and our talent level seems to be dropping. Recruiting?

    anyway, if you add all this up why would a student want to pack themselves into a truck, van, bus, etc… to come to the stadium, be harassed for taking too many parking stalls, constanly asked for ID to check their age for drinking just to watch a team perform mediocre at best?

    It’s time to rethink our priorities…Is UH Football some corporate, money-making enterprise where the students and lower/middle income families are shunned? Can we got back to the family friendly pricing without pay-per-view BS? Can we get a slice of pizza for less than $7? Can Rolovich call plays that I don’t “predict” in the stands 10 seconds earlier? OK….that’s enough for now

  6. ʻĀina:


    1. The team isnʻt winning.
    2. Hawaiʻi fans are bandwagon fans.
    3. Going to the game is expensive.
    3. We live in Hawaiʻi, where there are too many other options on a Saturday night. (As opposed to the middle of nowhere Iowa, where the thing to do is go to the game.)

    How to fix: Win.

  7. CriticalReader:

    That video is absolutely shameful. What is the UH administration thinking? Are they thinking? Are they capable of thought?

    It makes UH look like one of those funky schools in a B (or C) Movie.

    Message to kids: Come screw around in Hawaii!

    Message to parents: If your kids go to Hawaii, they’re just going to screw around!

    Message to future employers: Hire a UH grad, who’s good at screwing around!

  8. NT:

    As a UHM student, I think I can answer for at least some of the other students. I think the primary factor is just that this team doesn’t win. Call it being a fair-weather fan, but realistically, all the games UH should have won, in considerable fashion, we’ve lost. Going to the games aren’t worth it anymore (parking sucks, getting into the stadium used to suck, prices are insanely high) especially since UH can’t even win at home.

    Which leads to another factor, since as a student, there’s much more to our lives than just UH football on Saturday. We have to worry about midterms, papers and homework. For me especially, the football games used to be a stress-reliever. Now it only induces stress. Honestly, I’d rather stay home and do homework than go to the football game and watch us lose. I’m pretty sure for the students who dorm, there are much more exciting things they can do in town.

    I think another thing that played into the low attendance was the huge fight that broke out. There’s always been ridiculous non-students sitting near or in the student section, but that was just more reason not to go and endanger ourselves. Didn’t help that the fight happened around midterm time either.

    Another thing is that while there is transportation from UHM for students, a lot of local students don’t dorm at UH. Even less local students stay over at the dorms on weekends, so fighting traffic is kind of a pain, just to watch an over-hyped team struggle.

    Someone else mentioned this too, but the football games are more of a group thing to go to. I’m not saying that we’re all sheep and just follow the leaders of the groups, most of the students have realized that this year’s team isn’t the greatest (to put it lightly), but when you factor the large groups of friends that stop going, student attendance takes a huge hit.

    Oh, and the tickets and transportation aren’t exactly free, all UHM students pay an athletic fee. While they are at greatly reduced prices, we don’t get them handed to us for nothing.

  9. JD:

    I have to agree with NT above. The fighting going on at the stadium from what I have seen almost NEVER involves students. Take a look at the footage that aired on the news a few weeks ago showing the brawl that erupted in the stands. Those guys don’t look remotely like 17-21 year old students to me. They looked a lot like a bunch intoxicated adult men who are too immature to handle themselves in public once they have spent the afternoon drinking. I think that the stadium security and law enforcement tasked to enforce the underage drinking crackdown should be repurposed towards preventing these over intoxicated boneheads from getting into the stadium. If a guy looks like he’s too drunk and is being combative then deny him access to the stadium. I’m sure there is already a policy like this in place it just needs to be enforced a lot better. Let these idiots sober up by themselves in the parking lot while the rest of us who are capable of behaving ourselves can enjoy the game and not have to worry for our safety.

  10. kev-1:

    I think the problems have been sufficiently identified. There is no secret there. What about solutions?

    If the students truly are feeling unfairly targeted or blamed for the fighting, then the school should make a public apology to try and mend the situation. Face it, fans do help the team. These last two games are crucial. UH needs to be a bit more creative with how they lure people to the stadium.

    Don’t know if there is one, but how about a student parking section?

    Or a “student tailgating experience center” in the parking lot with games, entertainment, drinks, food, contests, etc.?

    How about a student tailgating challenge? Get your friends together to host the biggest, baddest, tailgating party. To be judged by the school radio progam or newspaper staff who wander the area from party to party.

    What about a student flag football game on the field either before the game or during halftime?

    Do we have pep rallies anymore? If you want people at the games, you have to build excitement about the game on campus leading up to it.

    Student appreciation coupons for drinks, food, etc.

    I don’t know. These may sound stupid to some, but the school needs to do something. I have been criticial of this years team at times, and I am starting to sense that they feel unsupported, even if they say they don’t listen to the negative. You don’t want to build that kind of mental disconnect.

    UH, do something. Just saying.

    And to the students, you’re not off the hook either. This is your football team. You may not owe them anything, but they are your peers. Have pride in your university and show some support for your team. I have a bunch of young children so don’t get to attend many UH games, but when I was a student, I took advantage of the cheaper tickets and went all the time.

    It is one thing to complain or criticize team when they are losing, but to just walk out on them is sad. And come on, this is Hawaii. One of the biggest arguments I had during my 20s was that there was nothing to do. The nightlife in Hawaii is weak. At best, the fun doesn’t start until after game time anyway. What better way than to get your buzz primed up at a football game before you hit the clubs. Trust me, you’ll spend less on alchohol at the clubs.

  11. concerned long time fan:

    ho about we start over. Find a good coach for $600K instead of $1.1 Million (or a great coach for $1 Million). Next lower the tickt prices and refresh the season tickets. Let’s get some real fans in the orange section seats! Then let’s get those concession prices lowered. $7.50 for a beeer? $6.00 for a slice of pizza? Come on…

    Pay per view has to go! No more live residential pay-per-view or raise the price to $200 a game! (while lowering tickets back down to $20-$25 per game. That should get some fans in the stands

  12. concerned long time fan:

    sorry..typed fast so many typos…deal with it

  13. bleedgreen:

    People, in general, are crowd followers, especially young people. If it were the “in thing” to do on a Saturday, the students would be clamoring for a ticket. It used to be that way thirty years ago when the administration had to impose a lottery system for student tickets because of the high demand. It has nothing to do with winning, rowdy behavior, or “I have to study.” Give me a break.

  14. bleedgreen:

    Why so much discussion about “low attendance?” In the WAC 25,000 attendance for a football game is considered a big turn-out. We are who we are – small city. Honolulu does not rank in the top 50 U.S. cities. And that’s why Honolulu does not have a professional sports team, any sport. Hawaii could not even support the Triple-A Islanders. Added to our low population demographic is PPV. Many fans find it easier to enjoy the game at home for a variety of reasons. Basically, the fan base size has remained the same, it’s just that some prefer to view the game at home, especially the senior fans who find it physically difficult to attend the games. The Athletic Department needs to look at finding ways to increase the fan base. So far, they have found all the ways to decrease fan attendance.

  15. Jack Flash:

    I remember when the tailgate portion of gameday was a great experience. You had keg parties, live music, people walking around the parking lot and enjoying themselves- good times! Then, you would go into the stadium feeling good and keep rockin’ til the Warriors (or Bows back then) brought home the victory.
    Nowadays, all we get is security everywhere telling us to keep calm and quiet, sit down, don’t have fun- it’s ridiculous.

  16. bigislandkurt:

    Winning cures all.


  17. JML:

    The cost of going to the game has skyrocketed. The cost of food is high and yet the food is junk. Some of the security guards are downright rude.

  18. MC96816:

    OK, I’m glad it’s not just me who found that UHM promo a little disconcerting. I guess it’s all right to show that students enjoy the school, but it’s such a generic video: put the students in different attire and the video could be used to promote UCLA, Syracuse, or Illinois. Why not highlight local culture? And as others have noted above it pushes a party atmosphere. If the UH is going to spend money on producing a video like this it should also have one that advertises the school’s academics.

  19. masteruke:

    There is one piece of the puzzle most people forgot to mention, Jim Donovan. He was the one that made the deal with Oceanic and asked and got student fees to balance the athletic budget. Drunks at the games.
    The idiot that runs the stadium says there is no problem with drinking. Why because beer is revenue and he will not giveup money for safety.

  20. uhstud:

    I know why I’m not going.. our team is horribly coached which equals losing, which we have been doing a lot of. Quite embarrassing, actually.

  21. Kaneohe Resident:

    I think the basic problem is UH Administration is too controlling. When something is given out; i.e., “free tickets” and transportation, they forget that the students already were gaffed $50 for these “freebies.” Take women’s volleyball (changing the sport), remember the Klum gym days? The Bozos? That was an entirely student thing and everybody seemed to enjoy their antics. Except for the administrators. Before you could blink an eye, they were banned. Ho hum. Boooring! Now look at the Stan Sheriff arena and the “Manoa Maniacs” (administration inspired), mega booring!
    The basic problem is that the Administration seems to think that student athletics is for them (the administration and public) and not for the students. If insufficient funds can’t be generated to support the althletic program at the Division 1 level, the serious thought should be given to scaling back the level of competition and thereby reducing the money needed. Too many times I keep hearing that the football players can play “at the next level”; i.e., the NFL. UH footbal is not intended to send as many players to the NFL as the coaching staff would lead you to believe. The main purpose of UH athletics is to provide an avenue for athletes to obtain an EDUCATION and their DEGREE!
    By the way, how many athletes signed professional contracts and later donated money to the athletic program? I can think of only one, AC Carter.

  22. Dan-O:

    It has nothing to do with winning….and everything to do with the alcohol. Agreed, as students, going to the games is more f a group, or social thing/event. Tail-gating being one of the large enticements. Once the under-age drinking was being stopped, less college kids in parking areas….hence, less in stadium.

    Sat in the student section during the Von Appen years….and it was NEVER empty (except for that monsoon game against New Mexico, I think). So no….losing is not the major reason.

  23. jonj:

    Well when the state allows the booking of a big time concert the sametime the football game is going on where do you think the students will go?? Everyone Ik went to go see sublime… becuase how often do u get to see them?? Maybe UH marketing department should book some kind of concert before the game like a pregame show to attract the younger crowd and make it fun again! Two birds one stone!

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