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Seizing the Day

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Perhaps this has been mentioned before and I missed it or forgot it, but the 2010 spring game is scheduled for for April 24th.

How do I know this? It's in the grand old tradition of information about Rutgers sports being (inadvertently?) leaked by a source other than the athletic department. In this case, it's the Rutgers Day site (bolded emphasis mine).

Saturday, April 24, 2010
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Free Admission
Rain or Shine
Rutgers–New Brunswick

Bring your family and friends and enjoy a full day of discovery and lively activities as you experience your state university at Rutgers Day, Saturday, April 24.

With performances, tours, exhibits, hands-on activities, and such perennial favorites as Zimmerli Family Day, Ag Field Day, the New Jersey Folk Festival, and the Faraday Lecture, Rutgers Day encompasses university campuses across New Brunswick and Piscataway. There will be even more activities this year, with the Scarlet and White football game and Big East softball and lacrosse games joining the day's action-packed program.

How did I know to look at that site four months away from the event? Thank a Rutgers administrator for spilling the beans in a rutgers.edu Q&A about the Rutgers Day event. Sincerely, without a hint of sarcasm, I would like to thank the Star-Ledger for sponsoring the upcoming Rutgers Day festivities.

What is Rutgers Day, and why is this important? Longtime readers will know that this site linked to stories about 2009's inaugural event. It's modeled on the University of Maryland's Maryland Day - as an event designed to promote the university to the broader New Jersey community. No doubt aided by gorgeous weather, the first Rutgers Day exceeded all expectations, with an estimated 50,000 in attendance descending on campus to partake in 400+ events. Some are for the kids, others practical. Now the goal is to establish the event as an annual community tradition that can pull in visitors from all four corners of the state.

The idea was so good and common sense, and the implementation went off so well, that I was frankly stunned that Rutgers of all institutions was able to pull it off. There was a pretty big crowd considering the level of promotion. It's a great tool for promoting the school. Parents are grateful to have a weekend activity with their kids, who subsequently get a positive first impression of the school. Something like Ag Field Day and some of the other demonstrations are savvy ways of giving practical demonstrations of the school's academic mission, and show what kind of return taxpayers are getting on their investment.

Not only is the next Rutgers Day poised to be bigger, but the synergy of integrating it with the spring game is genius. That's potentially thousands more in attendance to help garner an even larger attendance figure for the game, as well as promoting Scarlet Knight football to a newer audience. Not to mention that now football fans who may not have otherwise been interested will be tempted to wander away from their tailgates from a bit and check out everything else that's going on. Soon enough, we'll be known more forbug cookies than the fat sandwiches.

Last year's festivities also had Marco Battaglia, Mike Fladell, Brian Leonard, and Ray Lucas in attendance signing autographs. Luckily this year, it will conflict less with the NFL Draft, as the first three rounds of that are Thursday and Friday.