It's an early morning for TigerBlog.
He has to go back to Maryland today to get Miss TigerBlog from field hockey camp. And he has to be there (or had to be there, depending on what time you read this) before 11. Maybe as early as 9.
To get there at 9, he figured he'd have to leave at, well, very early. Hey, it's possible he's on I-95 now as you read this.
The problem with getting to College Park in the mid-to-late morning is that there is inevitably going to be rush hour traffic somewhere. And with the Democratic convention still in Philadelphia, he was thinking maybe 295 to the Delaware Memorial Bridge. Or at least to the Commodore Barry Bridge and then back across the river.
Commodore Barry, by the way, was an officer in the Continental Navy during the American Revolution and then again in the young Navy of the United States after the war. Why a bridge that connects South Jersey and Delaware County in Pennsylvania and was built in the 1960s chose his name isn't quite clear, but TigerBlog is okay with it.
Traffic is a big deal to TigerBlog's people. He learned this at family events at a young age, where the elders of his family would debate the merits of a given tunnel or given bridge, factoring in day of the week, time of day, tolls, etc. Some would be openly mocked and threatened with expulsion from the tribe for making incorrect decisions.
When there's bad traffic, the tendency is to get off that road and find any other road that helps you keep moving. Even if it isn't faster, it makes it seem like it is, just because you're moving. Deep in his heart, TB buys into this way of thinking.
For some reason, Delaware, a tiny state, is a terrible state for traffic. TB got stuck there badly on the way back Sunday after dropping MTB off.
TigerBlog took his car in to get the oil changed yesterday, leaving it in the capable hands of Ron, the official mechanic of the Office of Athletic Communications. Pretty much everyone who has worked here for the last 20 years or so has gone to Ron's place in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and he has never let anyone down.
The best thing about Ron is that he'll tell you what your car needs and doesn't need as far as service goes. And if something major is wrong? At least he's nice about it.
TB picked his car up yesterday (after another bike ride with John McPhee that ended with TigerBlog well off the pace as Mr. McPhee churned up a steep hill; at least he waited to take TB back to get his car) and then drove to Princeton. By the time he got to the Jadwin Gym parking lot, his car was smoking, there was oil splattered on the grill and hood and he could smell something was up. TigerBlog doesn't know a lot about cars, but he had a sense this wasn't quite how it was supposed to be.
As he got out of the car, he reached for his phone to call Ron when Ron actually called TB. Hey, Ron said, funny thing, I forgot to put the oil cap back on.
In true Ron fashion, he made the drive up to Princeton to put the oil cap on, after refilling the oil and cleaning up the spill. One problem in nearly 20 years or so. TigerBlog can live with that.
Plus he came up here to fix it.
The funny thing is that this was Ron's first time on Princeton's campus, despite the fact that he lives less than 30 minutes away. And, with a daughter who is around 10, he and his family are the exact demographic that Princeton Athletics is seeking for its events.
TigerBlog has asked the same questions for years.
Is Princeton attendance good? What is reasonable to expect? Do people who don't come not come because they're not interested or because they would be interested but don't realize there are events here and how close it is to them?
Do they think that games are sold out? Do they think tickets are expensive? Do they not realize that 32 of Princeton's 37 teams have no admission charge?
Princeton announced yesterday that it's partnering with the Aspire Group. The official release can be found HERE.
This is about fan experience here. And it's about getting answers to TigerBlog's questions, which in turn would lead to increased attendance and better experience.
TigerBlog is fascinated about what Aspire will learn through its work. And what suggestions the group will make.
Princeton Athletics provides something that is different than what most people think of when they think of college athletics. For one thing, as TB said, almost everything is free. For another, the games that do charge admission are hardly breaking the bank for anyone.
And the athletes are inviting to the spectators. They love to mix with the fans, especially the families with kids who are such a huge part of the crowds here.
The agreement with Aspire will only make this better. And, at the same time, it will also show Princeton the areas it needs improving, and specific ways to do so.
TigerBlog's theory is that anyone who comes to a Princeton athletic event will come back.
They'll see what goes on here, and they'll want to be part of it again. Who knows? Maybe even Ron will come back, this time for a game, and not to clean the oil off TB's engine.