By Scottie Bricker
Arizona Daily Wildcat
November 20, 1997

Times have changed


Arizona Daily Wildcat

Scottie Bricker

I walked away from Arizona Stadium for the last time Saturday night, and gazed back in appreciation of good times and bad. Great wins against UCLA, USC, Arizona State and the undefeated home record in '93. Also, the crushing loss to Colorado State in '94 and debacles versus ASU and Washington the last two seasons.

So many memories to take with me from my years at U of A, full of images of Chester Burnett, Joe Salave'a and so many others, all of whom made their final exit from the home arena on Saturday as well.

So the seniors played their final game in Arizona Stadium, Saturday, and I got to cheer them on.

Big deal, right? Exactly.

I was a fan for the first time in over a year, having been mired in the responsibility of covering the team to which I am assigned. It too was my last football game in Arizona Stadium. So much has changed since I started coming to games in what seems like 50 years ago.

I wasn't sure what to expect of my final game in the huge concrete structure across campus. I had watched the last 10 home games from the fan-protected press box where you cannot hear the crowd and the jingling of keys, nor smell the sweet odor of turf in the air. The only connection with the people in the stands is in the restroom while you are taking care of business as the public address speaker blares in your ear.

And as this night went on I realized the feeling of Arizona football just wasn't the same. Maybe I am just getting old, or maybe things are just plain different as life goes on.

The boys and I put in our hearing aides, took our blood pressure medication, and finished the last sip in our cans of Ensure. We adjusted our freshly disinfected dentures, buttoned our Cardigan sweaters and headed out into the night.

Our alma mater had a home football game, and I hadn't missed one yet.

All the toddlers ran around with red, blue and white gear on in support of their team, although if you asked them why they were there, I imagine you would get a blank stare in response.

The boys and I recalled the days when students stood up the entire game, no matter how many points our team trailed by. And they even stayed for the whole game, from opening kickoff until the final gun. But the difference Saturday was evident, someone forgot to invite school spirit to the game.

The several thousand or so youngsters who showed up for the game applauded a scattered selection of exhilarating plays with a token golf clap and a feeble hurrah, but most of them just sat there. Even when the "Lemonade guy" traveled throughout the student section, they SAT there and shared thoughts of their new BMW's and other new age toys.

I hadn't seen this much sitting since the last Lazy-Boy convention. We old folk felt so out of touch and just plain behind the times.

Oh, how times have changed.

Unfortunately, the lasting memory of the images of those students will live forever in the forefront of my mind. It was not exactly the picture I wanted to take with me from my last Wildcat football game.

The biggest disappointment of all comes from the lack of overall attendance. The Wildcats' only game attended by more than 50,000 fans came during Family Weekend. It's a shame more people didn't show up Saturday to honor the 24 graduating seniors.

I feel for Chester, Joe and all the other graduating seniors who will leave this university on such a poor send-off. Their presence will soon be forgotten, sometime next spring when the 1998-99 squad assembles for the first time. In an environment so large, faces are nothing but a mug to match a student number.

Will anyone remember the emotion with which Salave'a approached not only every game, but every play? Or will he just be "that guy who wore number 56." And who will remember the way some players balanced football, family, school and so many other day-to-day activities? I fear their accomplishments outside the gridiron are lost forever.

So to the men who set foot on the two-tone turf of Arizona Stadium for the final time Saturday night, I promise to take with me when I graduate more than just your jersey number, more than the sounds of "Lemony, lemony limonada!!!" and "RIGHT...UP...THE...MIDDLE..."

I take with me a better understanding of what it is to be a college student and to appreciate the experiences given me through sports.

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