By Alan Sorensen
In the news:
Festival Days buttons are out,
Northern has its first home conference opener in nearly 30 years Saturday,
And whether appropriately or not, the high school and middle school introduced their canine drug and weapon search units Monday and Tuesday and the jail had its open house Wednesday and Thursday.
Im a Northern alumnus, fan, and former booster board member, letterman, central board member, and student body president. In recent years, Ive been a cheerleader.
Up until the last couple of years I donated my $100 a year to one of the Foundation designations. When I gave to the Century Club, I got to use the gym, weight room and pool.
Then I decided one year to give to the faculty sabbatical fund and then donated a couple of hundred to the Vande Bogart Library. My only benefit those three years? The right to use the library, something I could do as a resident of the state of Montana whether I donated money or not.
These last couple of years I was saving up to send Spud to college, so, of necessity, I withheld my financial support from the Foundation and the Alumni Association.
Then, last year I paid a little more than $2,000 to MSU-Northern to educate the kid. That money turned out to be a donation, though, since he never completed a single course. His redeeming notion on his misspent year? At least I never got any Is.
But back to my tale.
I had the sour duty of being student body president at Northern the year the students voted to do away with football. It was sour because I was a member of the M Club and was expected to stand up for the athletic programs.
Well, I did for awhile, anyway. Then the number-crunching students brought the frightening details to Central Board. With the exception of about $8,000 donated by the NMC Booster Club each year, the football team depended almost entirely on student activity funds.
The football team consumed about 80 percent of our student funds. That left about $6,500, if memory serves, to fund basketball, baseball, rodeo, band and choir events, drama, golf, swimming, The Northerner (yearbook), NoMoCo (campus paper), celebrity concerts, and the various other programs operated under the auspices of Central Board.
The real kicker in all this, though, was the students outrage at seeing no more than one home football game. The last couple of years that Northern fielded a football team, the home games were scheduled for early in the season, before the school year even began. Not only was the team losing, it was losing when and where the students couldnt appreciate it. (One of our reasons to party was gone.)
My memory, which isnt what Id call very reliable, is fairly clear on this issue, because I was the only nonfootball-playing M Club member in town those last two years. I ended up running the concession stand by myself.
When Northern President Bill Merwin proposed bringing football back a few years ago, I went to the college with my concerns about a repeat performance. The big thing in returning football to campus was to ensure that students would get to go to the games.
Hurray! All of Northerns five home games this year are scheduled within the confines of the semester calendar.
My other concern was the cost. Who would pay for football? This time around, I was assured that the state would, with a little help from the Foundation and paying fans.
Wednesday, I called to inquire about getting a season pass to take a vehicle into Blue Pony Stadium. As I understood the arrangement, only vehicles with presold season parking passes would be allowed to park inside the stadium. Northern would then have to pay the school district $3 per vehicle at each game.
Imagine my surprise when I was quoted the prices for each of the three parking packages offered by MSU-Northern: $100, $200 or $300 per vehicle. I was told that the $300 package ($60 per game, whether attending or not) included two reserved seats in the bleachers and an MSU-Northern stadium blanket. I didnt wait to hear about the other two deals.
(I wonder how many Northern students are going to buy reserved parking tickets.)
As much as I enjoy watching Northern students get crunched on a Saturday afternoon, Im afraid Ill just have to pass if the weathers bad. Ill listen to the game on the radio and use the money I save to pay my utility bills.