Unsolvable Problems

Part 1

There are two problems connected with UNC football that I have finally concluded will never be and can never be resolved to everyone's satisfaction. Fortunately one of them was resolved to my satisfaction in a round about way but the solution was not related to the real issue, it was more that I acquiesced to the principal involved. This is a round about way of saying that the problem still exists but I have accepted the involvement of an intermediary as the overriding authority and have accepted the outcome.

The two problems I have referred to are 1) pre-game music and 2) standing during games.

As someone who has attended games in Kenan since 1948 I have had an opportunity to hear various types of pre-game music played there. In the old days, it was traditional to play marching music and college songs before games and I never gave any thought as to whether this was good or bad. It was just the way it was and I will admit, I liked it. There was something about hearing this music that put me into a war like mentality and ready to fight the enemy. Other generations have had different mindsets from today's youth.

But somewhere the mood of the populace changed and people wanted something more contemporary and confrontation. Songs started appearing that you might have heard on the radio but more and more I found that I hadn't heard the songs previously at all. I don't know if this speaks more to the changing times or the changes in my personal life. For example, as I aged, I found that I listened less and less to popular radio. I took a belated trip back to my roots and while I had shied away from country music a a youth, I was attracted more and more to this genre of music.

Somewhere, probably in the early 90's, there emerged a trend of playing the pregame music too loud for my liking and playing music that I absolutely could not relate to. Now this brings us to the question of who the pre-game music is for, the fans or the players. I had a rather animated conversation with a young lady in Chapel Hill recently who told me categorically that the pre-game music is for the athletes. Even though I understand her logic, I am not at all sure that I agree with her that it's that simple. Therein lies the problem

Whenever you put a large crowd together, there are going to be differences in individual tastes in everything from food to clothing and, of course, music. About the only thing you can get unanimous agreement on is support for the Tar Heels and sometimes I have questioned that.

I understand the value of music as a motivational tool but life in the 21st century is very complex. It could be argued that if the music exists solely for the players, we should buy them all headsets and they could tune in to whatever motivates them as an individual. Most of the players have headsets as witnessed by the fiasco several years ago when the Heel Walk was first begun. Originally the bus pulled up in back of the Wilson Library and the team disembarked and walked the short distance to the Football Center. Fans were confused and disappointed when, for the first two years, the players would have headsets on as they walked through the cheering fans. It was as though the athletic Department was saying that the walk and fans cheering would assist the Heels in getting ready for the game but the headsets clearly communicated the message that the music was more important to the players than the cheering of the fans. We finally got that straightened out but it wasn't easy.

Pre-game music could be played in the dressing room if motivation is the only consideration but a problem presents itself if the coaching staff is attempting to communicate with the players.

Then we go to the other side of the equation and that is choosing music that will satisfy the fans as opposed to the players. In addition to there being a problem associated with varied musical tastes, there is a problem within a problem in that there seems to be a considerable gap between what people past 30 (maybe it's not a specific age but more related to whether you are still in school or not) and those who are older.

The younger fans seem to want what's hot regardless of whether it is considered good music or not and, quite frankly, I have difficulty recognizing some of them (don't know what to call them) as music. Call me ole fashioned and I will accept it with honor but I , generally speaking, call something music if I can hum the tune. Try it sometimes on some of the renditions put forth in BKS.

So with all of these problems, what happened, you say that caused me to accept the music currently being played in Kenan. It was the arrival of John Bunting and his wife and their interest in music. I have never talked with them but I am told by reliable sources that the two of them choose the pre-game music. That's good enough for me because I had one heck of a time finding out who chose the music before Coach Bunting arrived. I was finally told that a dj from a local radio station made the selections and I decided then to discontinue my efforts to research the subject. I concluded that we might have put even pre-game music out on a contract and, if true, it would be pointless to pursue the matter. I have and will accept whatever Coach Bunting thinks is appropriate for pre-game music but I sure would be a lot happier if somehow they could squeeze in "In My Mind I'M Going To Carolina." Sometimes, you have to toss the old dogs a special biscuit away from the pack to keep them involved. And to think that we codgers used to be the cool ones .

Next time, I'll write a few words about standing up at football games. It's sure to split the Tar Heel fan base into two camps.


Part 2

The first unsolvable problem had a happy ending, for me at least, since I accepted Coach Bunting as the prevailing authority as it relates to pre-game music. The second one has no such ending and continues to be a source of irritation for many Tar Heels fans. Acknowledgement is hereby made that there are two sides to this problem and even discussing it carries with it the possibility of widening the disparity in positions between the two sides.

There are those who feel that the game day atmosphere in Kenan and support for the team would be enhanced if fans were to stand for the entire game like they do at some other schools, most notably Texas A and M. I can't disagree with the basic premise. Certainly it would be inspiring to the players and intimidating to opponents if fans were on their feel from kickoff to the final gun. But there are some problems with people standing for an entire game, some physical and some relating to the effect standing would have on fans who either chose not to or can not stand for an extended period.

I am not an attorney but it might be interesting to try and approach the problem from a common sense/legalistic standpoint. It seems to me that when a ticket to the game is purchased, there is a contract of sorts entered into even though the terms of the contract may be implied rather than stated explicitly. It seems to me that a purchaser of a ticket to the game makes the purchase with the understanding that the ticket entitles the buyer to a seat (unless agreed to otherwise), game to be played at announced time, reasonable protection from bodily harm, and other conditions we won't go into here. If a buyer is assigned a seat, then it follows that the seat is provided so that the game can be witnessed from that seat. If something or someone obstructs the vision of the ticket holder, it seems to me that the seller of the ticket has a obligation under the original contract to correct the situation or at least refund the purchase price of the ticket which, in the case we are discussing, would be no solution to the problem.

In most situations, temporary obstruction of one's ability to see the playing field is not a big problem. Most people stand at various times during the game out of sheer excitement or suspense and shortly thereafter, the situation returns to normal. That is not what we are talking about here. We are talking about people who think it is their right to stand the entire game even if they are blocking the view of the game for those seated behind them.

There was a very sad post on one of the message boards after the Texas game by a gentleman who said that his wife was escorted out of the stadium while he was in the men's room because she wouldn't be seated. Security had been called because those seated behind her had complained and, according to the poster, she refused to be seated after they arrived. This is terrible and I have a great deal of compassion for both the gentleman who made the post and his wife. But it could have been worse. What if the lady had refused o go with the Security personnel? It would have left those trying to deal with the situation with two bad choices. They could have either done nothing and enraged the fans who had complained or removed the lady forcibly from the stadium. Hardly what one anticipates when they dressed for the game that morning. I'm sure the entire weekend was ruined for this couple and that's why I call it sad.

So the question is do fans have a right to have an unobstructed view of the field when they purchase a ticket? Can the stadium officials place or allow anything to placed in the line of vision to the field in accordance with the original contract when the ticket was purchased? Would anyone defend the right of an an individual to bring a sheet of cardboard the exact width of their seat but extending upwards for 10 feel so as to block the view of those seated behind them? This may be a ridiculous example but is used to make the point that a ticket holder's rights do not extend upward indefinitely. Once the principal is accepted it becomes a question of where these rights end not whether they exist or not.

One of the most miserable Saturday afternoons I have ever endured in Kenan Stadium was several years ago when my season tickets were adjoining the visitors section. I had brought a guest to the game to see his first game at UNC. One of the students from the visiting institution stood up in front of us for the entire first quarter. I thought maybe he would sit after a while but he kept getting stamina from a large cup and showed no signs of faltering. Half the time he wasn't even looking at the game, he was just talking to his friends and hollering.

Finally, I asked him as politely as I could if he would mind sitting down because we could not see the game. He moved over one seat and continued to stand and asked if I could see now. I replied that I could but I have never forgotten the position it put my guest in. I should have pursued the matter but I didn't and my guest didn't want to create a ruckus, so he didn't say anything to the student. Alcohol was a factor. My friend and I never discussed the incident after we left the stadium but it really spoiled the day at least for me.

So where does this leave us? There will continue to be people who feel they have the right to stand the entire game and there are others who feel these people are infringing on their right to see the game.

If anyone has the solution to this problem, I would like to hear about it and I know the Athletics Department would be eternally grateful if you would share it with them.