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Wisconsin Badgers programs going digital

“Get your programs…get your programs here.”

Those words are some of the first ones kids, adults and students hear when entering a sporting event. For many, those words are also inextricably linked to the memories formed from attending games.

However, come the 2014 season, the Wisconsin Badgers will no longer sell game day programs. On Friday, the school announced what was rumored earlier this week — programs are going the route of the digital age.

Gone are those famous words heard around stadiums and replacing them are likely to be announcements to download the “Varsity” app on your iPhone or Android device. Something tells me those words don’t and won’t ever have the same meaning or feeling to them.

Simply put, Wisconsin’s game day experience will change forever in 2014:

“Wisconsin Athletics will now be producing digital game programs for football (home and away), volleyball, men’s hockey and men’s and women’s basketball games. Printed game programs will no longer be available, but a roster card with stats, home and visitor rosters, notes and a short player feature will be available for purchase for $2 at concessions stands and Bucky’s Locker Room locations.”

So, your memorable moments can’t be brought up when you get to show your kid the collection of game day programs you have. Instead, just reach in to your pocket and pull up that app and share away.

UW spun this decision as a chance to be more interactive and such…

“We saw this as an opportunity to expand our reach with the game programs,” director of athletic communications Lucas said. “The success of Varsity Magazine, coupled with declining sales of the printed game programs, led us to this decision. We think the game programs will continue to be a valuable source of information for our fans with an enhanced interactivity that will make them more enjoyable.”

It’s a shame, because some of the best memories I had growing up were the thrill of having my father buy the game day program for me. For some, it’s also been a tradition dating back generations and for others the game day program is a collectable that earns them money.

Any way you slice it, this change is a big one, and one that affects the bond that fathers and sons share and pass down.

Yes, I may be getting older (32 years old isn’t that old, is it?), but I’m still young enough to know the digital age has swept over all of our lives. Hell, I wouldn’t be making a living right now if it weren’t for the digital age (you know, since you are likely reading this on your phone). So, I get the desire to cut costs and produce something more interactive.

However, for millions of people, myself included, there’s nothing more interactive than being able to relive the memories created when those old programs are pulled out of boxes or talked about as they sit on shelves.

Heck, one of the coolest parts of being in the press box was having a free copy of that game day program waiting for you when you got there. I’ve kept the program from my very first game as an official press member at Camp Randall (coincidentally it was also the last game day program I’ve ever seen given to the media at CR) as a token of memory of the event.

But, I guess all good things must come to an end?

After all, this move also will affect basketball, volleyball and hockey…basically no more game day programs for any UW sporting event.

Apps are awesome, apps are convenient…but no one has ever accused an app of being able to replace human interaction, and that’s what losing a game day program means for many people.

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, as well as Publisher of Big Ten site