Friday, September 23, 2011

Heads Up

For awhile there yesterday, TigerBlog was giving serious thought to the possibility of being clocked on top of his head by a falling satellite.

When TB came back from getting lunch yesterday (chicken salad club, wheat toast, no mayo), he was greeted by a discussion in the business office about the impending return to Earth of a dead satellite. As of yesterday, all that was known was that it was going to reach the ground somewhere - anywhere- on Earth between Friday and Sunday, and that it was the size of a bus.

The last time this happened was in 1979, when Skylab was going to make that plunge as well. TigerBlog is old enough to remember the widespread panic that news inspired, only to see the first American space station fall into the Indian Ocean and hit a small piece of Australia, without causing any damage to anyone.

As of last night, TB saw that the odds of any person's getting hit by the satellite this weekend was 1-in-3,200.

Armed with those numbers, TigerBlog was pretty sure that the Princeton-Bucknell football game wasn't going to be interrupted by a gigantic piece of space debris. Still, it would have been somewhat fascinating to be in the PA booth and see something beyond the far side of the stadium that got bigger and bigger and closer and closer until it sort of destroyed Princeton University.

Now it looks like the satellite will fall into the Pacific Ocean sometime today, as opposed to Lot 21 or Thomas Sweet tomorrow afternoon.

Whew. TigerBlog can breathe easier.

Of course, there's a much higher chance that something else will be falling from the sky between now and kickoff - rain.

Granted, it won't rival the last Princeton-Bucknell football game, at least in terms of mud, since Powers Field is FieldTurf and not real grass.

And yes, the hourly forecast indicates that the rain is supposed to end right around 6, which is when the kickoff is scheduled.

And the forecast becomes pretty good after that - cloudy and temperatures around 70. Perfect for football.

Except that the average fan who makes a decision day of game as to whether or not to bring the family over to the Princeton football game will probably be less and less likely to the later the rain falls.

Michael Cross, now the Director of Athletics at Bradley and a longtime member of Princeton Athletics, had a theory that the average family considering what to do with their entertainment dollars on a given weekend, makes that decision within a few hours or the event, as opposed to planning well in advance.

TB wonders if he has the same belief in Peoria that he had here, or if there are different factors - such as ticket price or demand - at play at Bradley.

Here, though, the philosophy that Cross believed is shared by TB, which also means that the decision to attend Princeton athletic events versus, say, going to the movies, is highly dependent on the weather.

And it's not even the weather at the time of the game. It's the weather in the hours leading up to the game.

TigerBlog has already gotten one text message today from someone who said that they'd be at the game, probably, "as long as it's not storming."

Tomorrow is also Faculty and Staff Night, which is a good opportunity to get some people to games who ordinarily might not come - and then get them to come back by having a good experience.

The bigger issue is that one rainy game - let alone more than one - when there are five home football games can significantly impact the attendance figures for the whole season.

It all comes back to the questions that TigerBlog always asks, such as what should Princeton marketing be, what drives people, is there this untapped audience out there for Princeton athletics, are people not getting the word or are they getting the word and still not interested, are there other issues, are there misconceptions.

In the meantime, TB is hoping that the weather clears earlier and that people come out to see the game.

Right now, though, all TB sees outside the window is rain as it falls onto Princeton Stadium.

Of course, it's better than a satellite.

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