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SGA continues Play for Four, Stay for Four executive initiative

Shahriyar Emami, Staff Reporter

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Clay Martinson has been going to Alabama football games all his life. For him, staying through an entire game is a priority and a commitment.

“When you come to Alabama, we’re held to a higher standard here in the classroom, our players on the field and definitely our fans in the stands,” said Martinson, SGA vice president of student affairs and a junior majoring in history.  

The Student Government Association (SGA) has been looking for ways to keep student fans from leaving before football games are over, so the organization pushed an executive initiative for Alabama’s homecoming game against the University of Missouri.

“The way I look at it is like, would you get up and leave one of your classes?” Martinson said.

The initiative, Play for Four, Stay for Four, implemented new ways to keep students in seats for the entire duration of a football game.

“We have added vendors to the student section, brought back ‘Dixieland Delight’ and finally we have free refills in the fourth quarter this game,” said SGA President Price McGiffert, a senior majoring in civil engineering.

McGiffert and the SGA’s goal is to encourage students to stay for all four quarters of a game.

Jessica Paré, associate athletics director for communications, said the atmosphere that a full Bryant-Denny Stadium creates is second to none.

Coach Nick Saban is a vocal critic of students who either leave Alabama games early or do not attend at all. On Oct. 3, following Alabama’s game against Louisiana-Lafayette, Saban said he was disappointed with student attendance during a press conference.

“You all want to be a part of the team when we win,” Saban said after last year’s game against Ole Miss on his radio show. “Why don’t you stay committed for 60 minutes and stay there and support the players who are doing a hell of a lot more and working a lot harder to try to satisfy you and what you want than anything that you’re doing by staying at the game for a whole game?”

Michael Casagrande from AL.com tweeted a photo of the stands during Alabama’s game against Arkansas State on Sept. 9 that showed decreased attendance late in the game.

“You look at all the things that Coach Saban has done for this community,” McGiffert said. “Whether that’s the [Habitat for Humanity] houses or what he’s put into this university and this booming city, and he doesn’t ask for much. He asks for us to stay for the whole game for seven Saturdays a year in Tuscaloosa, and that’s all we ask for.”

Another part of the initiative SGA added is rewarding the most full block-seating section at the end of the game with Coke products. Martinson said block seating has expanded this year, and organizations like fraternities and sororities apply for block seating where attendance is enforced.

The SGA collaborated with the athletics department to take pictures of the stands at the start of the game, after halftime and at the end of the game.

Martinson said the pictures taken during these times allow SGA to see who shows up to games on time and who is staying for four quarters. He said SGA issues warnings and punishes blocks based on lack of attendance, late arrival and behavior from individual blocks.

“Dixieland Delight,” a song by the band Alabama that UA students have been pushing to have return to the stadium during games, has not been played at Bryant-Denny since 2015. According to AL.com, the song was removed because fans would sing vulgar add-ons. But after three years, the song was played in the stadium on Saturday night during the fourth quarter.

McGiffert said the SGA has been trying to work with Athletics Director Greg Byrne since last year to bring the song back. McGiffert, Paré and Jeff Purinton, associate athletics director, worked with Byrne to bring it to fruition.

“‘Dixieland Delight’ was something that I was hoping we could bring back, and I’m glad we were able to make it happen,” Byrne said. “There are so many great traditions at Alabama, and that is certainly one of them that many people enjoy at Bryant-Denny Stadium. It was a pretty special scene Saturday when it played, from the roar of the crowd to the excitement from our student athletes on the sideline.”

Martinson said the decision to bring back “Dixieland Delight” was received well by Alabama fans.

“It was great to see so many fans and students still in their seats in the fourth quarter,” Byrne said. “I know Coach Saban and our student athletes appreciated that.”

McGiffert said the student section Saturday was unreal.

The changes the SGA pushed through its executive initiative went as planned by keeping students in seats until the end of the game, Martinson said.  

“Everything went extremely well, the stadium was jam-packed and ‘Dixieland Delight’ is here to stay,” Martinson said.

 

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SGA continues Play for Four, Stay for Four executive initiative