OVERTIME: Crowded schedule could hurt Butler

Published Sept. 5, 2012

This Saturday, Butler’s football team will be taking part in its first game under lights since the early-1940s.

This is an important step for Butler from an athletic standpoint.

With the university’s jump to the Atlantic 10 Conference last summer, school officials would probably like to prove that they can host athletic events under a variety of circumstances (despite the fact the football team will not be part of the A-10).

Saturday’s game could help the flexibility of the football team’s scheduling in the future as well.

However, moving some football games and, before them, some men’s and women’s soccer matches to an under-the-lights setting could also pose a potential problem for the university.

Butler attempted its first athletic triple-header last September. The football team and both soccer squads had contests in the Butler Bowl on the same day.

The triple-header was likely a new and, at times, exhausting expeience for some members of Butler’s athletics department. Running one athletic event in a given day requires a number of different operations and activities to take place in very short amounts of time.

Doing those same activities three times over the course of eight to 10 hours would likely be draining.

Accordingly, the athletics department has not scheduled three events in the Bowl on a single day this academic year.

However, two separate weekends this month will see a great amount of athletic activity in short periods of time.

The first of these is this weekend, and that schedule reads as follows:

Friday, Sept. 7
Volleyball—Butler Classic, starts 11 a.m.
Men’s soccer—Butler vs. Northern Kentucky, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 8
Football—Butler vs. Franklin, 6 p.m.
Volleyball—Butler Classic, starts 6 p.m.

Sunday, Sept. 9
Men’s soccer—Butler vs. Central Arkansas, 1 p.m.

With no rest for the weary, Butler also has the following schedule assembled for Saturday, Sept. 29:

Football—Butler vs. Dayton, 1 p.m.
Women’s soccer—Butler vs. Saint Louis, 7 p.m.
Volleyball—Butler vs. Duquesne, 7 p.m.

It is great that Butler is finding opportunities for fans to take in multiple sporting events in a given day, but I see two major issues with this sort of scheduling.

The first lies in overextending and straining the athletics department staff.

I cannot speak for those within the department. I cannot say those individuals were exhausted at the conclusion of the triple-header last year, that they were unable to rise from their respective beds the next morning.

One might think that taking care of the operations and behind-the-scenes work for three athletic events in a single day—especially with one being the school’s first athletic contest under lighting since World War II—might be a bit stressful, though.

So this year, the staff gets to run that gauntlet twice in four weeks.

It may prove to be even more difficult this time around. Some teams have contests scheduled over each other.

Starting the finale of volleyball’s Butler Classic and the first night football game in more than 70 years at the same time cannot possibly benefit an athletics department staff that will have dealt with earlier volleyball and men’s soccer action less than 24 hours prior.

Slotting the women’s soccer and volleyball teams into the same starting time just hours after the conclusion of a football game is potentially problematic as well.

And then there are the fans that, on the surface, benefit from receiving the opportunity to view multiple sporting events in a given day.

There is clearly an issue with attendance at Butler’s fall athletic events. Figures are not high, and the stands of the Bowl and Hinkle Fieldhouse are nowhere near full during such events.

That is why it is difficult for me to understand how scheduling events on top of each other will fix this. Fans cannot be in two places at the same time.

Also, if a day is filled with events, the casual observer will probably only attend the first on the list. It is simply overwhelming to attend three athletic contests in one day.

Overwhelming is the key word in this discussion. If stacked scheduling is some sort of initiation into the A-10, the Butler community will have to live with being overwhelmed.

Otherwise, the school should realize that it might be taking on more than it can handle.

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