MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- The time for public comment on the West Virginia University Board of Governors proposed policy change to allow beer sales at athletic events is expiring.
Now 19 days into the 30-day sounding off period that will shape the board's ultimate decision, what we've seen is probably best described as aggressive apathy.
The first week saw 227 comments - more than 30 per day - and WVU believes that total is actually greater than the entirety of any other public comment period. Good start.
In the next week, about 20 more rolled in at the online forum. Not about 20 a day ... about 20 total. Now, it's maybe a handful a day.
Mind you, this proposition affects tens of thousands of people in the stands, plus the city and its people surrounding the stadium. Yet a small fraction was so offended, or so inspired, that it felt compelled to fire up a laptop and fire off an email.
The truth is it's not nearly as divisive as people once thought. It's not apocalyptic. Nor is it utopia.
It's simply 2011 and as much a way to control the athletic department's bank account as it is a way to control what WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck categorized as the "declining civility of our fans."
It's silly to separate the two, much as it is naive to think this is where the policy ends.
The way the policy is written allows for beer to be sold "at West Virginia University athletic events." They play those athletic events at Mountaineer Field, but also at the WVU Coliseum and Hawley Field and Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.
Right now, the policy in the proposed form means WVU could one day down the road introduce beer sales at those other venues and not have to go through this public comment period again. This is not the comment period for Mountaineer Field. It's for every facility.
Suppose WVU generates $850,000 from beer sales in the 2011 football season - right in the middle of what Luck estimated could be a financial impact between $500,000 and $1.2 million.
Based on last season's attendance, seven games at home would be worth $121,428.57 per game and $2.16 per person - and isn't attendance going up this season?
By that very loose math, WVU basketball in 2010-11, when the team had 14 home games and an average attendance of 11,468, could have put another $346,792.32 in the bank.
How long can that kind of money stay on the table?
The answer, as far as Luck is concerned, is for the foreseeable future.
"We don't get the number of complaints here as we do in football," Luck said from his office in the second floor of the WVU Coliseum. "That's something that I don't think right now is a necessity. The same justification doesn't make sense for basketball as it does for football."
That justification is that the crowds at football games have grown in recent years to be too coarse and intimidating for many patrons. That's the nature of a football crowd and the dynamic that separates it from the festivities preceding a basketball game.
"A basketball game is not an all-day event," Luck said. "A college (football) game has become an all-day event for a lot of people. I think it's safe to say there is increased alcohol consumption at a football game because it's an all-day event as opposed to a Tuesday evening, or any weeknight evening for many basketball games.
"We think being able to take a little more control is more important in the football context than it would be here. I think the crowds here are fairly civil."
That's the rub.
The Coliseum in the past sure seemed to have the more negative reputation on WVU's campus because of the profanity and the chants and the court-storming and the perplexing preference to throw things on the floor and at opponents.