UH fans don’t need bowl guilt trip
If you can't wait to attend the Hawaii Bowl, bless you. That's great. I'm happy to hear it. That's wonderful news.
It's terrific that local football junkies have a postseason matchup to watch live on Christmas Eve.
But if you don't feel like going, well ...
I'm not going to put the guilt on you.
Others will, though. Brace yourself. Here it comes.
Of course, I think that's a mistake. It's the wrong approach.
It's wrong and it just might backfire, period.
The onus shouldn't be on local fans to attend the game out of obligation, no matter what. The ball isn't really in our court.
It's up to the Hawaii Bowl to offer us a game that we'd like to see.
You see, that's what consumerism is about. Supply and demand. People willing to pay for goods or services because you're offering them something they want. This is supposedly a big-time, Division I actual real bowl game here, not a Little League sweetbread sale.
If this is a real bowl game -- and you'll notice I've used that term a couple of times now -- it makes it on its own merit. Once you play the pity card, you've already lost.
Once you do that, you devalue the game on its face.
Now, this is a tough job for the Hawaii Bowl people. It is. Let's face it, Conference USA does not exactly ring a lot of bells around here. And moving the game to Christmas Eve from Christmas Day was a good move. But it's still a tough time slot for getting people in the seats, to get them to set aside 4 hours-plus at the stadium at the height of the holiday rush.
It's definitely a tough job for the Hawaii Bowl people.
But they've got to rise to the challenge. They've got to find a way to sell this game positively, on its own merits.
Let others throw the pity party. Let others throw down the gauntlet of guilt. And they will.
People will say that you owe your attendance to this game as a way to "support UH."
But again, is this a bowl game or a bake sale?
Is this a bowl game or a home game?
(Yes, it is a bowl game in the sense that UH players get to stay in a hotel and receive video games as gifts, but you know how the rest of the college football world sees it.)
You would have to think that the game would hold a little more prestige with local fans during these "off years" if it meant a little more for Hawaii to get there, if it wasn't treated as such a "support UH" entity.
Yes, initially it was a great idea -- and if you remember, a lot of the credit has to go back to Crazy Evan Dobelle -- to make up for the fact that UH tends to get overlooked when bowl bids come out.
But a spot spelled out, specifically? OK, that's a little too much.
UH is past that point, or should be.
Look at last night's big game: Boise State's goal is to win the Western Athletic Conference, every single year (oops). Fresno State's goal is to go as high in the Top 25 as it can.
Hawaii's goal is to get into the Hawaii Bowl.
I think that can hurt you, in the long run.
The Hawaii Bowl's goal is for Hawaii to get in.
I think that hurts, too.
Now you're stuck trying to sell a home game without the home team.
So now here comes the hue and cry. The guilt. But that's wrong. If this game is going to mean something when UH is in it, it needs to mean something when it isn't.
If anything, we should put the pressure to sell tickets on the schools actually playing in the game. Everyone says this bowl is necessary because -- since UH traveled poorly once -- bowls on the mainland will never take Hawaii again.
(If UH wins the WAC, UH is in a bowl. It may be a very bitter and unlucky bowl. It may be a bowl with plenty of empty seats. It may be a bowl that would curse UH forever. But if you win the conference, somebody takes you. That's the deal.)
So now the rubber slipper is on the other foot. It's on whoever plays here. They can see how easy it is for a mid-major program to come up with 10,000 people willing to make a transpacific trip. And if they don't? Revoke their bowling passes for good! The same way it happened to Hawaii after that wonderful Holiday Bowl win in 1992.
Of course, then they would have to get home bowl games of their own.