Why students don’t care about Alabama football

BrinkerhoffAnyone who grew up in Alabama or, for that matter, has spent a day in it, knows that Crimson Tide football is a huge point of pride for the state.

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.

  • UbiestWaldo

    God-forbid we have priorities beyond football, John. There are more meaningful things to do with our time than worship our already overwhelming football culture. In fact, I’d go as far as to say we “care too much” about football. Just as football players are living their wildest dreams out there on the field, doing what they love — so should we. Living vicariously through football certainly isn’t the answer. I’d like to think our players wish me the best of luck on my career goals, just as I’ve supported them all this way and attended the games I could. Fandom is not as black and white as you make out to be. Don’t sermonize students about their lackluster passion about football. Football has gotten enough glory on this campus to last a lifetime.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gerald-D-Tinnon/1112297215 Gerald D. Tinnon

    I agree with this blog 100%. The student section is totally embarrassing to the University. Northern Illinois does it better. Kansas State does it better. Neither has a national championship. NIU has one BCS game on its resume and KState has two. Either get with it or don’t be a part of it. Roll Tide!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jarhead85 Jeff Mc Bride

    Hey Waldo , I believe John stated that if you wish not to go then don’t attend just to leave early. From you’re comments , sounds like he wasn’t referring to you. But thanks for you’re input.

  • forza

    Nice strawman, Waldo. The point of the article, which you ignored entirely, is that if you’re going to show up to the game, stay for the game. If you’ve got “more meaningful things” to do with your time, then kindly don’t show up to the game.

  • tldees

    I came here for academics, not football.

    • forza

      Perfect; don’t buy football tickets.

    • Amadeus

      “I came here for academics.”

      Words I never thought I’d hear associated with the University of Alabama and as a reason for someone to attend. Run Forrest, run!

      Cheers to /r/cfb for linking us to this article.

      • http://www.facebook.com/THExREALxTACO Jeremy Taco Patterson

        Do some research, Amadeus. Alabama is actually quite accomplished academically.

  • GoldenDoor

    You didn’t explore why students don’t enjoy football as much as excoriate them for it. I thought this was going to be a progressive piece about students having forged a unique consciousness and more serious priorities than the massive, screaming horde, but it was simply another member of the horde shaming them for their lack of nationalism, if you will. Alabama is a school. It’s supposed to be about learning, not sport. Serious, worldly stuff. The world has a lot wrong with it. Not everyone can justify spending that much time watching people play games.

    • forza

      It’s a four hour football game. These worldly, tired and time-pressed academic-types you’re moaning about are people who have already carved out part of their day to SHOW UP to the game. Are their schedules so demanding and coursework so rigorous that they have enough time to join “the massive, screaming horde” for two quarters, but then must bolt back to the library? Or is it more likely, as the author suggests, that they’re merely spoiled by success (or for that matter, eager to get the PARTY started early)?

      Come off it.

    • http://twitter.com/TheAlexLekas Alex Lekas

      “a progressive piece about…having forged a unique consciousness.” Really? It’s a football game. For students at big schools, it is among the cool diversions from class, papers, and all the rest. Some are huge fans, others go for the social part. Stop trying to make it some sort of morality play on priorities.

      If you worried about universities being “about learning”, ask the faculty to put in more than 15 hours, the administration to quit jacking tuition every year just because it can, and for the deep thinkers to stop introducing degree programs that are utterly useless in real life. College isn’t (wasn’t?) that difficult; you can pretty much justify any amount of time spent doing almost anything, including watching people play games.

  • http://twitter.com/IanOliver83 Ian Oliver

    I agree with your article. I was a student while Shula was coach…..I attended every game and stayed for the end of every game. During my tenure at Alabama there was one group of people that seemed more concerned about being seen at the game as opposed to seeing the game. You know who I’m talking about, those “fans” who primarily sit in the end zone (or did before the expansion) wearing their suits and dresses that were not appropriate for the heat. They all were so excited to cheer the team as it cam out but then as soon as the game started, their backs turned so they could talk to people behind them about how awesome their croakies are. If you haven’t picked up on it yet I am referring to the greek section. They are just too cool right? They barely cheer, they are forced to dress like they are going to a banquet not a football game in 100 degree heat. They throw stuff on the field and generally disrespect the rest of those in attendance. While there are those in the greek community that are rabid die hard fans, the pieces do not make up the whole. If anyone should lose seats or be encouraged not to attend it is them. The highlight of the game is seeing how many souvenir cups they can get after the game is over. The students of today may take it for granted, good thing our coach doesn’t.

  • unfriendlyfire

    This article is stupid. Fans stay for good, close games. When the starters are pulled and we start power running just to burn the clock, (Which happened several times right around halftime this year) why should the students stay? The team isn’t even really playing anymore, so there is nothing to watch.

    I don’t think it’s bad by in any way. It’s the smart call to avoid injuries, especially to key players. It’s also the classy move to not just run up the score on teams not at our caliber. Acting like fans should be required to watch out team try and burn time is just stupid though.

  • http://twitter.com/TheAlexLekas Alex Lekas

    why is it insulting to leave a game when the outcome in not in doubt? Students, like anyone else, paid to get in and leave apparently feeling they got their money’s worth. It happens everywhere, not just at bama games. Seriously, dude.

  • Aimee Morris

    I’m with John and forza, if you buy a ticket, watch the game… if you don’t care or have more important things to do on a Saturday (like studying?), then don’t buy tickets. I’ve been in the rain and down so far it would take a miracle to come back, but I stayed because the team stayed. That’s just how it is. RTR!