On Thursday, the Ole Miss athletic department unveiled the results of a gameday experience survey that was sent to season ticket holders and students, which you can find here. While I'm sure there was all sorts of interesting data in those results (YOU PLAY TOO MUCH RAP MUSIC, which was an actual quote), the most interesting portion of the 26-page report came at the end where 100 improvements to the gameday experience were listed. These were not proposed improvements, but improvements in writing with a goal to be made by the start of the 2011 season (gasp, accountability!).
A few months ago, when I heard about the survey going out, I immediately filed it in the category of waste of time and resources. We didn't need a survey to tell us that the stadium gameday experience at Ole Miss is a dog and pony show with a few stray dogs and no ponies (much like how everything is run at Ole Miss). If you attend Ole Miss home games, you are very familiar with the basic failures of that experience:
-The sound system has never, ever, not once ever, NEVER worked like it should. Depending on where you're sitting, it's either at a decibel level similar to that of 27,000 747s taking off at once, or someone pressed the mute button (strangely enough, the PA announcer, Glen Waddle, can always be heard from Clarksdale to Tupelo; unfortunately, having him find something else to do on Saturdays was not part of the 100 improvements).
-Most of the fans are still sitting in the Grove 30 minutes before kickoff
-The audio/visual presentation on the PoweTron was clearly done by someone employed by Ole Miss, which should never be allowed given the number of talented people living in the South who do that sort of thing for a living
-The PoweTron was severely underused
-OH DAMMIT WE JUST GAVE UP ANOTHER PASSING TOUCHDOWN
-Only 50% of the stadium can hear the band (Personally, I could not care less, but it is staggering the number of people who get outraged over not being able to hear the band)
-The concourses in the older parts of the stadium represent the world's largest CF
-If you'd like to use your cell phone, use it to bludgeon the drunk behind you because you sure as hell aren't going to be able to use it for its intended communication purposes (This is also somewhat of an Oxford problem on Saturdays and, as always, an AT&T problem)
/has next 25 phone calls "dropped"
There are plenty more, but I'm just as tired of writing that list as you are reading it. But, back to whatever the point of all of this is, to spend time and money reminding ourselves of all of these things seemed foolish. WE ALREADY KNOW THEY SUCK. However, even though it was probably unnecessary, by going through this survey process, we eventually arrived at the list of 100 improvements coming to the stadium in 2011. For those unfamiliar with how Ole Miss works, you should know that Ole Miss has never taken the straightest line to get anywhere ever, so that doesn't come as a surprise to me, but I am surprised we arrived at potentially a better place, which RARELY happens.
A stadium exists to make money. And, like anything that you want to make money for you, it should be run as smoothly and efficiently as possible. From the tiniest of details, like cleaning up the ketchup and mustard mess on the condiments table made by someone's terrible kid right after it happens, to a much larger issue, like people being able to hear what the person speaking on the PoweTron is saying, it all matters. If you make people think you give a crap, then show that you do, they'll enjoy their experience, keep coming back, and spend money (assuming 4-8 seasons aren't the norm, which, at this point, is a big assumption).
For as long as I can remember, Ole Miss has half-assed everything. Sometimes, we didn't even give a percentage of an ass. So, while all of these improvements are absolutely logical ideas that should have been implemented years ago, it's refreshing to see the athletic department finally get their ass in gear and, you know, DO THEIR JOBS (yes, I realize how sad it is I'm giving positive compliments to a group for doing what they should do, but we've been given so little over the years, I'll gladly eat any good news up). It remains entirely possible that we'll continue to half-ass away, and I'll still be yammering and shouting to the sky about the same things five years from now, but this is Ole Miss, and initiative and taking responsible actions happen about as often as we go to Atlanta, so it's hard not to have a little twinge of hope that we could, at least partially, get out of our own damn way for once.