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Take 2

A different spin on sports by The Seattle Times staff and readers.

October 31, 2014 at 11:01 AM

Take 2: UW’s greed and the selling of Husky football traditions

Husky Stadium was recently updated, and so were some of UW football's game-day traditions.  Dean Rutz / Seattle Times staff

Husky Stadium was recently updated, and so were some of UW football’s game-day traditions.
Dean Rutz / Seattle Times staff

BY MAX WAUGH

Max Waugh, a lifelong Washington fan, is submitting the following letter Friday to the UW Athletics Marketing Department regarding the erosion of the traditions of Husky Football game days.  The letter has  been co-signed by more than 400 other Husky fans, alums, season ticket holders, students and former UW athletes. Read the letter, with the names of all the signees, here. 

To Whom It May Concern:

I came away from the football game versus Arizona State more upset than after any game in the past eight years. Was I disappointed with the loss? Of course, but that’s not what made me angry. Instead, I’m upset about the “Our Tradition” campaign blaring across the video screens throughout the game. This latest attempt to elicit passion and boost fan support for the currently mediocre brand of Husky Football is misguided, and frankly, insulting.

The traditions displayed on the video board during these segments included images of a retired Captain Husky and UW Rose Bowl wins in the distant past. These “traditions,” as the department likes to bill them, don’t even exist in the current state of Husky Football, so the message behind them feels empty. However, the real issue relates to the bigger picture: You tout “our traditions,” but it’s been apparent that UW Athletics is more interested in selling traditions off one by one rather than maintaining them.

After several decades, the Husky Marching Band is suddenly no longer playing the national anthem. All because the current singer’s friends donated money for the new stadium sound system and demanded he get a solo gig. Yes, someone’s actually paying to specifically discontinue one of Husky Stadium’s longest-standing and proudest traditions.

The band also plays at maybe half of the rate they used to in the stands throughout the game, preempted by canned music, sponsorship opportunities, and now even movie trailers.  More commercials equal more revenue for UW Athletics, but once again Our Tradition suffers.

The Zone consistently empties the stadium at halftime and well into the third quarter.  Our once-vaunted home-field advantage has crumbled (something ESPN’s commentators alluded to during Saturday’s broadcast). Why is the Zone there? In part to reap the benefits of additional revenues earned from concessionaires.

Even a tradition as basic as the “Go! Huskies!” chant has dissolved because the student section was moved. Why were they moved? $$$$.

The tradition of wearing purple and gold uniforms by the football team has largely disappeared in today’s era of Oregon-style jersey transformations. Sure, the athletes love this, but it’s largely driven by your partnership with Nike. Again, every trail leads back to revenues and profits.

The fact is that Husky Football traditions are fading. Many of them are being sacrificed for financial gains and now the athletic department has proven that it is willing to literally sell them off (in the case of the national anthem). So stop insulting our intelligence by showing outdated imagery representing beloved traditions that you have little interest in maintaining!

To add insult to insult, the mercenary behind the mic completely ignored Saturday’s Moment of Silence for Marysville-Pilchuck  High School, immediately launching into the national anthem. This disgraceful act, combined with his awkward rendition (which fans can’t even sing along to), makes your “investment” in him look worse and worse every week. But at least the new sound system is working well so we can hear more commercials with even better clarity.

I am not a doddering half-century season-ticket holder who fears change. But I am a lifelong Husky who has been through the extreme highs and the lows of our shared football history. I have represented UW Athletics on the field and Husky Nation in the stands for decades. I understand what Husky tradition means, as do tens of thousands of other dedicated fans, supporters and donors. Please: stop insulting us with meaningless propaganda and instead start showing us that you understand and care about preserving Husky Tradition.

Can you find ways to make your money without completely discarding the identity that made us proud of all of our athletes, coaches and administrators all these years? Can you make Our Tradition meaningful?  Prove it.

Max Waugh is a lifelong Washington fan that grew up attending games at Husky Stadium with his father, who taught at the UW for over thirty years.  He has supported the Huskies through some lean times, enrolling as a student during the probation years and more recently acting as UW Athletics’ lead photographer through the entire Tyrone Willingham Era.  Through it all, his passion for Husky sports has never wavered.  He even remembers the words to the Alma Mater, which will surely come in handy some day.

Want to be a reader contributor to The Seattle Times’ Take 2 blog? Email your original, previously unpublished work or proposal to Sports Editor Don Shelton at dshelton@seattletimes.com or sports@seattletimes.com. Not all submissions can be published. Opinions expressed are those of authors, and The Times reserves the right to edit and publish any submissions online and/or in print.

 

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