Fan appreciation day: where a kid can be a kid and an adult can act a fool.
As thousands of Oklahoma State and Oklahoma fans gear up for the annual preseason autograph sessions with their teams, this is a plea to every adult who will attend the fan appreciation events Saturday.
No pushing. No shoving. No cutting in line.
If you've never been to “Meet the Cowboys” or “Meet the Sooners”, you might think I'm kidding. Unruly behavior at fan day?
Granted, this is Oklahoma and most folks here were raised right. They mind their manners. They respect other people.
But this is also a college-football-crazy state, so sometimes where the sport is involved, folks lose their heads.
Frankly, I don't get the whole autograph craze in the first place. It's one thing to randomly bump into a celebrity and ask for an autograph. That's proof of your chance encounter.
But getting autographs from players sitting on the other side of a table signing their names assembly-line style? Where's the appeal in that?
Now, if you're a kid, it's a whole different story. Just getting within an arm's length of your favorite players is a thrill. Then leaving with their autographs? That's a moment to remember and a treasure to tack on the wall of your bedroom.
In a perfect world, getting autographs would be a kids-only endeavor.
Turns out, I'm not the only one who thinks so.
Three years ago, the Baltimore Ravens instituted a kids-only autograph policy during training camp. Crowds of autograph seekers had gotten too rowdy and become a safety concern, so the team banned adults.
Two years ago, OU did the same for “Meet the Sooners” day — no autographs for adults. Adults can accompany their kids during the event, but only children can get autographs. Even though Sooner fans of any age can get autographs after the spring game, it's children only on fan appreciation day.
“Our numbers have decreased,” OU senior associate athletic director Kenny Mossman said, “but we have a very manageable event.”
OU isn't the only school that has been forced to take extreme measures to regain control of these autograph sessions.
A couple years ago, Texas implemented an online lottery for admission to its fan appreciation day. Only 250 fans are chosen. An email ticket earns entrance for them and one guest.
No one can bring their own memorabilia either. The school saw more and more items signed by players being sold in various places, and it didn't like it one bit. Now, Texas provides items — posters and such — and only allows them to be autographed.
All of that might sound a bit restrictive, but I don't blame the fine folks in Austin. Things had gotten crazy, and they took steps to fix it.
Hard to knock that.
Neither OU nor OSU seem poised to move to anything as severe as Texas. In Norman, the move to kids only went smoothly the past two years, and in Stillwater, somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 fans made their way through the autograph lines last year.
Then again, it would only take a knucklehead or two to screw things up. And it wouldn't be kids who would cause problems either.
So, listen up, adults — if you're going with your kid to OU or going to get autographs yourself at OSU on Saturday, have fun. Enjoy yourself.
And be on your best behavior.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.