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Westhem: Fall is for football

Coming into college I had already decided that I could not and would not go abroad in the fall for the sole reason that I love college football. Yes, that’s a silly reason, but everyone gets to make of his college experience what he wants, and that’s what I wanted (and still want).

I grew up my whole life watching football games surrounded by my parents and their friends, often being the youngest kid there. I never minded and it just meant that there were more people to explain the game to me early on.

It wasn’t until I went to my first game in Stanford Stadium as a student that I realized how special it is to be cheering on a team that represents my school and to know some of the players. It’s a completely different experience that you can only have as a student and only for four years (or maybe a little bit more, seeing as most of us never want to leave the Farm).

So that’s why I will not sacrifice a football season, even to study abroad. This especially holds true now since our team is so good. I’m sure students during the pre-Harbaugh era couldn’t have cared less if they missed a season. But right now, we are experiencing prime-time Stanford football and possibly tracking a national title run (knock on wood; I don’t want to jinx it).

I think most students share my sentiments if the turnout at the last two games is any indication. Even when the threat of more rain was on everyone’s minds, the Red Zone was packed last Saturday. True, the non-die-hard football fans left at halftime, when the Card was blowing out Arizona State 29-0, but at least they showed their support. I think the fact that many left early just proves how much confidence the students now have that the program will finish out strong.

In July, season tickets sold out for the first time in University history. Because fans are so excited about Stanford football, the Department of Athletics would be smart to capitalize on this and draw in as much revenue from its top sport as possible.

But it’s not just about money; it’s also about improving the fan experience and giving fans an incentive to leave the comfort of their homes to travel to the stadium. Well, Stanford delivered; I’m sure everyone noticed the vast improvements made to Stanford Stadium over the summer.

During my Sophomore College, titled the Stanford Safari, we got an insider’s tour of Stanford Stadium by Ray Purpur, the deputy athletic director, and he made it clear that the goal for the new changes to the stadium is to benefit the fans who deal with all of the challenges of coming to a game – I didn’t realize that most adults prefer to actually watch the game from at home, but I guess we don’t really understand the inconvenience since we live here.

Anyways, Purpur was overjoyed to share with us the improvements that had been made and emphasized that the Athletics Department is working hard to keep students and fans interested in coming to the games on a regular basis. After all, there’s no point in having a great team playing in a great stadium if no one cares to show up and watch.

Ours is the first stadium in the country to have an all-around, continuous ribbon board. It’s also the first college stadium to add Wi-Fi, with more than 50 percent of the attendees using it at any given time. What’s even better (from a hungry student’s perspective at least) is the food. Athletics really stepped up the cuisine, attempting to draw fans in to eat a meal before kickoff in the stadium as well as during the game and ultimately pull in more revenue.

So basically, we have a top-five team to cheer on and an athletic department dedicated to improving the fan experience. What more could you ask for? I certainly couldn’t imagine a better school to go to or a better environment for college football. And that’s why you’ll never catch me overseas during college football season.

Ashley Westhem is considering resigning her job at The Daily to work in public relations for Stanford Athletics. To give Ashley advice on that decision, email her at awesthem ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Ashley Westhem

Ashley Westhem

Ashley Westhem was Editor in Chief of Vol. 248 after serving as Executive Editor and Managing Editor of Sports. She is the voice of Stanford women’s basketball for KZSU as well as The Daily’s beat writer for the team and aids in KZSU’s coverage of football. She graduated in 2016 and is currently a Communications masters student. Ashley is from Lake Tahoe, California.