Fans seared as heat index soars


CW / Hannah Saad

With a heat index of 107 degrees in Tuscaloosa, matched with metal bleachers radiating heat onto more than 100,000 fans, Bryant-Denny Stadium was an oven. 

Such conditions were detrimental to some visitors at Saturday’s home opener, as over 130 people were treated by paramedics for heat-related injuries, according to a report by The Tuscaloosa News. This left some fans flustered from choosing between their health and watching the Tide roll.

“You hear Coach [Nick] Saban say all the time, ‘We play for four quarters, so the fans should be expected to stay for four quarters,’” Luke Ratliff, a junior majoring in public relations, said. “Well, yeah, but we didn’t sign up to play football. I’m here out of the goodness of my heart to support my school.”

The temperatures were a topic of contention between Alabama Athletics and concerned fans, as Saban criticized low turnout after halftime during his post-game presser. Saban said all he wants is a vibrant spirit on the field and in the stands.

“I think it enhances the value of our program if our stadium is full and people stay for 60 minutes in the game,” Saban said. “And I know we tried to enhance some of the things that we’re doing to try to get them to do that, but that’s a choice and decision they gotta make.”

Ratliff, however, was quick to call Saturday’s conditions “inhumane.” While he did stay for all four quarters of the game, Ratliff said the excessive heat should be taken more seriously.

“It’s not great to hear that language come from someone that most students respect so much, put on such a high pedestal,” Ratliff said. “To hear him badger us students about leaving early and not feeding into the atmosphere when it’s literally 100 degrees in those bleachers, I see it coming, but it’s terrible. But I’ve got faith in Greg Byrne and everybody to make this right.”