With the recent turmoil in Purdue football, and the Purdue athletic department in general, the question is raised asking what the average fan, read as you jolly readers, can do to make a difference. I've seen it said numerous times on Twitter, man I love Twitter, that the best thing for Purdue fans to do if they are displeased with the direction of the Purdue football program is to vote with their wallet. That could mean either not buying tickets or stopping support of the John Purdue Club entirely. I'm here to give you my perspective on this decision and why it's both the best and worst thing you could do for Purdue football. Let's take a look at the best first.
Why it's the Best
I'm sure of two things about the majority of our readers here. First, I'm sure they aren't thrilled with the current direction of Purdue football and even if they are thrilled with the direction they don't like the lack of wins the team has over the past two years. Second, the majority of people reading this blog are from the USA. I think that's a safe bet. Why do I bring this up? Because America is a capitalist country with a market based economy. What does that mean? Now, I'm no economics professor but that basically means that consumers vote with their wallets and the best products "win" and continue to be produced while losers that no one buys fall by the wayside. It's a system that has worked well for America. In this scenario removing your money from either season ticket sales, JPC donations, or both is you saying that they product is no good and you'd rather spend your money on other things.
In this country money is king. In order to run a successful company of any kind or really start any type of venture you need money. The Purdue Athletics department is no exception to this rule. In fact they are a great example since all their money comes from the fans and the networks. No money comes from the University. If fans take money away it obviously sends a message to the department that the fans aren't happy, that something that needs to change, that if something doesn't happen soon Purdue could find itself in a precarious situation financially.
Purdue, and Morgan Burke specifically, prides itself on being able to run the department without taking money from the university and without taking money from a fund directly from the students. If season tickets continue to fall and JPC donations continue to drop as we have heard that they currently are Purdue would have to do something. Purdue would have to make a move of some type. Would it be enough to force out Morgan Burke like so many angry pitchforked mobs would like? My opinion on that particular matter have been made clear so I won't go into them here. Does this accomplish the goal of the masses who would move their money elsewhere? That's more difficult to say.
Why it's the Worst
Purdue isn't a blue blood. Purdue doesn't have a Phil Knight or a T. Boone Pickens waiting in the wings ready to drop millions upon millions of dollars into the athletic department to mold it to their liking. Purdue makes their living on smaller donors and ticket sales. More recently of course they've made their living based on revenue from television contracts and the BTN. That's not to say that Purdue doesn't have big name and big money donors but there is no one that comes to the level of Knight or Pickens. For that reason Purdue relies more heavily on people like you and I.
I'm a JPC member. I have been for three years. In previous years, before I moved to Virginia, I was a season ticket holder along with my wife and other members of my family. This was the first year since 2004 that I haven't had season tickets in some way or another. That hurt me from a fan standpoint. I knew the season was going to be a tough one but I still wanted to be there and if I hadn't moved I would've been in those stands each Saturday. What's my point here? My point is that Purdue lost that revenue and I sure didn't make up for it by donated the same amount to the JPC. Based on the stands this season at Purdue games I certainly wasn't the only one who didn't buy tickets after a 1-11 season. This season, probably, saw a drop in football revenue in the millions. I feel pretty confident in saying that.
So what does all of this mean for the department? As I said Purdue lives off people like you and me and we may want to send messages by not buying or not donating but does it really get the job done? Won't you and I not donating hurt more than it helps? In essence what you're doing is starving the organization in hopes that it will get better in the long run. It's a risky proposition because if Purdue doesn't find a way to replace that money it's possible they find themselves in a death spiral of sorts. You and I both know that Purdue as a business is run in very conservative fashion. If the department can find a way to scrape together cash and survive don't you think they'd stick to their guns and wait for things to get better? At what point does Purdue make a move? How much money has to be lost? How many student athletes, the real reason we donate money, are going to be harmed by this stance? That's what people will tend to forget.
I can't possibly tell you what to do with your money and I certainly wouldn't assume what your financial situation is. All I want you to do is give some thought into any decision before you do this. We all love Purdue Athletics we just all show it in different ways.