A modest proposal for student football seatingBy John Brinkerhoff | 03/19/2014 11:00pm
Despite the fact that our football team has become a highly coordinated and (mostly) winning machine over the past few years, other aspects of the program are far less than ideal. Every year, major issues arise like clockwork for the student football experience.
During the season, student attendance is beyond abysmal. As anyone with a television knows, the lower bowl student section is largely empty even before the start of the fourth quarter. Even the sage advice of our SGA President and Verne Lundquist cannot convince students to stay for four quarters.
Following the season, the opposite problem occurs. Students can’t get inside the stadium. The few tickets that UA provides to students are allocated based on hours, meaning that the only undergraduate students who receive them are those who love the Capstone so much they decided to stay for a few extra years after their peers graduated.
In fact, the hour requirement for these postseason games is often higher than the number of hours required for graduation. Obviously, uproar occurs around the fact that students who graduate on time never get to see a postseason game.
Let’s kill two birds with one stone and ensure not only that students stay for four quarters during the regular season, but also that those who finish in four can attend games after it ends.
Last year, when students were ignoring the pleas of UA administration to stay, a swipe-out system was suggested: Students would record their attendance via ACT card readers at the end of games. Those who leave early would not be able to swipe out and receive credit for attending.
The University should actually implement it and link it to postseason tickets.
The students who have stayed for the most games should get tickets. To compensate for the lack of precision, credit hours could be used as a tiebreaker between the students who attended the minimum number of games for tickets.
A swipe out system would provide a merit-based method for allocating valuable postseason tickets. Students, who previously had a valid excuse that finishing their degree on time should not preclude them from attending a championship, will be forced to put their money where their mouth is. They will have to attend games for all four quarters, mitigating our problem with students leaving early.
As an added bonus, only the most dedicated fans will be in attendance for high-pressure postseason games. Alabama will be represented outside of the SEC by the best fans, not those who complete the most classes.
This system is obviously not a panacea for the woes of the student football experience. Fifth (or seventh) year seniors will still benefit from their extra-long commitment to education over traditional four-year students, and there is certainly no guarantee that a thus far defiant student section will change course and remain until the end of games.
Still, it’s a start, which is much better than the alternative of simply praying that next season will be better.
Both problems are embarrassing to our school. Other than the small cost of having stadium staff man the gates at the end of games, there are no drawbacks to implementing a swipe out system. It is time to take action and make our football program the best it can be.
Oh, and while we are at it, let’s link this system to block seating applications.
John Brinkerhoff is the Opinion Editor of The Crimson White