03 November 2008
Game day on the Capstone is a special time. For us old-timer alumni that means arriving early to set up for the day's tailgating festivities. Putting the pork on the grill, icing down the adult beverages, and lining up the satellite dish are all a precursor to the party that is game day.
You hearken back to the days of rolling out of bed at 11:00 (which was WAY to early) after partying like a rock star the night before. With that $4 student ticket in your pocket (that's right, when I was in school student tickets went for $28 for a seven game home slate. side note: oh my God I am old!) you met up with your buddies to begin the morning much like you ended the night before.
Most importantly, however, was getting to the stadium early enough to get a seat before kick off.
That doesn't seem to be the case with students these days. Now I am sure that they might partake in the consumption of certain liquid courage on the night before and the day of the game but what I am not sure of is the actual making it to the game part.
This column isn't meant for most of the students at the University of Alabama - most of the student body crams into the student section to root on their classmates. This column is, however, meant for a certain group of students who has a sweet set up that they are abusing.
Block seating was around in the early and mid '90's during my time at the University but was never misused as it is these days. I am in my seat for every home game and as I rise for the opening kick off, I usually pan the stadium to take in the crowd.
It always pumps me up to see the fans standing and cheering...until I get to the student section. It is then that I see two sections of Bryant Benny Stadium barely half full with students who are more concerned about setting up their plans for that night than they are for the game.
There are around 20-25,000 students at the University of Alabama (up from the less than 15,000 that were enrolled in my day). The student section seats around 9,000. These numbers alone should mean that the student section should be standing room only for every game.
For those of you who may not be aware, the University has allotted certain sections of the student section for fraternities and sororities. I assume this was done to prevent fights from occurring between fraternities who were attempting to save seats for the other members of their fraternity.
There are 52 fraternities and sororities on campus in Tuscaloosa (give or take a few depending on which ones have been throw off campus). Let's say that they average 50 members per (I couldn't find any statistics so I am spit balling - they seem a bit secretive with these numbers). That would mean that there are 2,600 students eligible to sit in the block seating area.
If we round that number up to an even 3,000, that means that 12% of the student body receives roughly one third of all student tickets. This would be unusual enough if the Greek section was packed every game. The sad part is that it isn't and the only people that it hurts are the students who want to go to the games but can't.
Greeks get a bad rap by the non-Greeks on campus. There are plenty of decent folk who are members of fraternities and sororities (or at least there used to be - I know many fine people who went through the Greek system at UA).
The abuse of block seating is a great example of why Greeks get this reputation. In a time when students who can get tickets to the games can't get them for every home game, it is a shame to see block seating half empty when it could very easily be full.
Nick Saban touched this subject with kid gloves earlier in the season, saying that students who can't attend games should give their tickets to students who can. The administration has long been wary of doing anything that might seem anti-Greek - I would assume because there is a lot of cash donated by alumni that were Greeks while on campus.
So if Dr. Witt and Mal Moore don't have the guts to do something to fix the half full student section, then I am calling on Coach Saban to step to the plate. If there was ever a man who didn't give a rip what someone thought, it is Nick Saban.
Being 9-0 and ranked #1 in the country for the first since 1980 gives him all the pull he would need to get it changed. Not that Saban needs the added ammunition to make drastic changes in athletic department policy.
The Greeks at the University of Alabama should be ashamed of themselves for what happens (or doesn't happen) in the student section every Saturday during the fall. There should be a section full of loud and passionate students cheering on their classmates as they take the field. Sadly there isn't.