Attend the game or watch on TV?

Many Tennessee football fans are facing the same question: With gas hitting $4 per gallon, can they afford to attend the seven home games this year?

Now it seems the university is making that decision a little more interesting.

A "Big Orange Email" from the Tennessee athletics office to Vol season ticket-holders announces that UT is partnering with DISH Network in an unusual promotional venture. Here's the deal:

The email begins by hyping the benefits of watching Vol football games in high definition via Dish Network satellite. The features mentioned include pausing the action using DVR, creating your own instant replays and recording up to 350 hours of football action. There's even a quote from UT athletics director Mike Hamilton trumpeting the fact that, "DISH Network's support and national reach is phenomenal."

The email goes on to note that fans who sign up now will receive three months of free programming (a $120 value), free installation and activation (a $49.99 value).

By this point I was scratching my head. It seemed as if the UT athletics department was saying: "Why drive to Neyland Stadium when you can stay home and watch our games via DISH Network on your high-definition TV?"

The folks in the Vol athletics department are smarter than that, of course. In fact, they're pretty shrewd. That becomes clear when you check out the final inducement in the DISH Network offer – a $50 gas card from Pilot Oil.

I can hear it now ...

SHE: "You know, George, I can't wait to watch Tennessee's home opener on that new high-definition picture we're getting from DISH Network."

HE: "Well, Louise, I've been thinking about that. I'm sure watching games on high-definition TV will be pretty life-like but it's just not the same as being there – smelling the popcorn, feeling the electricity of the crowd, hearing the pads popping and all of that. I think we should drive to the game, it being the home opener and all."

SHE: "But we live 150 miles from Knoxville, George. That's 300 miles round-trip. I thought we were trying to cut our expenses a little."

HE: "We are trying to cut expenses, Louise, but look at it this way: Our car gets 25 miles to the gallon, so we can get to Knoxville and back on 12 gallons of gas. At $4 a gallon, it's only going to cost us $48 to drive to the game. We can use that $50 Pilot Oil card we got when we ordered DISH Network and have a couple of dollars left over."

You're a shrewd dude, Mike Hamilton.

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