It is easy to see why. We have a storied history of domination that is supplemented by a series of extremely talented teams. During my time at the University alone, I have seen two BCS championship victories. And that doesn’t count the 2009 championship victory before I enrolled. Beyond that, the team has a veritable laundry list of accomplishments, ranging from a Heisman winner to a consistently strong draft pool for the NFL.
Unfortunately, one would not know it from looking at the student body. It does not take a Crimson White story, full of charts and statistics, to see that we largely do not care. In fact, it only takes attending one game to see the lack of dedication. For the substantial number of students who have yet to stay for an entire game, here is a picture of what happens after you leave:
The flight of students from the stadium typically begins after Alabama gains a small lead over its opponent. By halftime, it becomes blatantly obvious that the student section is beginning to empty. On a good day, the entire lower bowl, not just student organization seating, is only a third full by the fourth quarter. In fact, I distinctly remember a few games this season where the number of students in the lower bowl could barely fill four rows.
We as a student body have taken this team for granted. After all, we have it good. We were not enrolled at the Capstone when a losing record was common and breaking even was expected. Instead, we have deluded ourselves into thinking that success is guaranteed. Unless a game is particularly close, students leave early. It apparently is just not worth our time.
This practice is demeaning to our school, which is represented on ESPN by empty stands. It is insulting to our team, who remains dedicated to success even when their peers do not share that drive. It is unfair to the freshmen students who actually want to attend all of the games but can only buy half the tickets.
Perhaps the group most hurt by this trend is us, the students. Not only have we let our own smug sense of superiority over other teams cloud the joy of watching a football game, but we have also done so publicly for all the world to see.
From the University’s standpoint, little can be done. Sure the penalty system could be made stricter, students leaving early could receive penalty points, or the price of student tickets could be raised. But these avenues would still not address the root of the problem: our own mentality.
As members of the UA family, we have some soul searching to do before we enter next season. To those students who genuinely do not care about football: do not buy tickets. To those of us who claim we truly care about supporting our school and team: put up or shut up. Either attend the entire game, or admit you don’t care and join the others who decline to buy tickets. There is no shortage of fans across the state who would appreciate your lower bowl ticket for a full four quarters.
Our football team is nothing short of legendary. They have dominated the competition and rightfully earned their place in sports history. It is time for us to meet them halfway and prove that we are national championship caliber fans.
John Brinkerhoff is the opinion editor of The Crimson White. His column runs on Mondays.