Wednesday, September 12, 2012

UGA students' investment at Sanford

Last week I mentioned that it takes a large investment of time and money to be a fan in the SEC. I questioned whether Mizzou had what it takes within them, and they kindly answered positively.

Well, many fans, alumni, bloggers, tweeters, bookfacers, tailgaters and other generally concerned casual observers have questioned the UGA students' investment. In the interest of full disclosure, I count myself among those a time or two. Because it's clear something needs to be done (although I'm not sure freshman priority is the way to go). We see their opportunity at a seat in the game at such a reasonable price and then all those empty seats in their section, we can't help but get frustrated.

Well this post is a reminder that non-students aren't the only ones frustrated. With a now sold-out night game looming, I hope all Georgia fans...regardless of seat assignment....put their fanny in the right spot.

- - - - - - - - - -

    Saturday in Athens. Is there a more beautiful phrase? It truly seems as if all the other months of the year are just filler until football season arrives once again. As a junior at the great University of Georgia,
I have cherished my past two seasons as a student, and it saddens me every time I am reminded that I
have only two more seasons until I have to graduate and watch the games as an alumnus. I can tell you
that I bleed red and black. I eat, sleep, and drink Georgia football. I have been yelling “Go Dawgs!” since
before I even understood what it meant. And I have been blessed to grow up in the town of Athens. I
have fond memories of this entire town turning red and black in the fall. My dad even took me out of
school in the 1st grade just so I could go get Jim Donnan’s autograph.

Now I have read numerous posts from some of you Bulldog alumni bashing the UGA students of
today. Talking about our student section being empty and what not. But have any of you taken into
consideration the recent changes that have been made regarding the student tickets and the student
section? These days students cannot sell any of the home tickets that we have received, and you have to
show your student ID to even get into the student section. Personally I have not missed any of the home
games as a student. Can all of you say the same? I don’t think it is such a horrible thing if a student sells
his ticket is they need the cash, and I welcome the craziest fans who would sit in the student section.
In fact, some of my earliest games were spent in the student section with my dad after we scalped
some tickets from students. I even sat under the scoreboard as a kid as the students tore down the
uprights after we finally beat Tennessee. I know that I will never get to enjoy that same view with my
own son one day. To be honest I don’t like the changes that they’ve made. It does nothing but reduce
the number of fans that can be in one of the best sections of the stadium. Instead you guys bash the
students, and say we don’t care.

If any of you doubt the student’s dedication to our team, I need only refer you to the Missouri game this
past Saturday. I made the 13 hour trip to their high school stadium, and I wasn’t the only student who
did. Even though they split up the Georgia faithful into 3 sections, we still made our presence felt. We
spent the entire game chanting “SEC! SEC! SEC!” and my personal favorite “Old Man Football! Old Man
Football!” At one point we even managed to get a good “GEOR-GIA!……BULL-DOGS!” cheer going with our brothers across the field. We students didn’t sit down during the game, and we didn’t let the fact
that most of us have multiple exams this week deter us from supporting our beloved dawgs. If that isn’t
passion in your eyes, what is?

With all due respect I don’t know if all of you appreciate some of the great Georgia football that you
have gotten to experience. I haven’t gotten to see the Dawgs win a National Championship. I never got
to watch Hershel Walker run over people, and my time listening to Larry Munson call the games was
woefully cut short. Did all of you go to his memorial service at Sanford Stadium? Because I did, and I
teared up like a little girl even though I believe that real men don’t cry.

Frankly I get offended when the student body is kicked to the curb by some of the old dogs. I know that
not every student is as passionate about Georgia football as I am, but there are plenty that are. We
respect the alumni, and it would be nice to get a little respect in return. I beg of you to not lump all the
students into one category based on what you see on TV. We are not all the same, but all of us love Red
and Black.

-Son of Athens Homer Dawg


Bernie said...

I know there are plenty of passionate students about UGA football like the student above. I have a problem with an empty upper deck that makes our student section look like the NATS. Take up the issues mentioned with the administration on ticket distribution. A raucous student section is key to building a home field advantage, and right now, we don't have that because too many show up late in the 1st quarter and leave at halftime.

Bernie said...

Games like FAU, Buffalo and Georgia Southern do NOT help matters either. This is the crappiest home schedule I can ever remember. The AD needs to address the ticket issue for students because those are legitimate issues. And believe me, there were plenty of empty seats two weeks ago that were not in the student section.

Bernie said...

It frustrates me as well. In general....

1. Students often like to crowd into the lower section, standing room only. The upper deck looking thin even when the stadium is sold out is nothing new. However, it has gotten noticeably thinner in the last few seasons.

2. UGA changed it to where student tickets are loaded electronically onto student ID cards. If you don't want to go to a game that you have a ticket for, you can't just give it to someone else or sell it. You have to go online by Wed. before the game and "donate" it back into the system. At least for last year and this year, this has to play a major part in the problem of student attendance. At some point, when everyone is used to this being how things work, it might be better. But in the transition, it's been ugly.

3. Crappy slate of games.

4. Early start times the last few years, moreso than normal. You have to do your drinking before you go into the game, (sort of), so getting there well before kickoff and contributing to the atmosphere is something a lot of people choose not to do.

Bernie said...

There is 1) an access issue and 2) a pricing issue that underlies the apparent problems w/ student attendance.

1) Most UGA students, especially freshmen, have a large amount of friends who aren't UGA students (especially considering the average SAT/GPA increase over the years). Students have friends from out of town come in, and without ability to get their friends/GFs/younger siblings into the student section, many students find it much easier to not attend and get the full Athens experience DT instead.

2) As the above student letter mentions, the inability for students to readily transfer/sell their tickets when they are unable to attend hinders attendance. If a ticket net only costs the student $7, why not hold onto it in the off chance their plans disintegrate and they end up able to attend the game after all?

Under the old, physical ticket system, when students could not attend, they would end up scalping them to recent graduates who have a little bit more $, want to sit with their 5th year college friends in the student section, yet do not have the funds or interest in a large capital outlay for season tickets in the 600 level. The financial incentives of scalping kept students from sitting on tickets they might otherwise not use, and at the same time increased attendance/passion in the student section.

Bernie said...

The football team, least everyone forget, is made up of students. Which section to they run to at the end of a game? The student section, not the alumni side.

A lot of season ticket holders didn't show up for Buffalo and a good more left at half time. But their absence is somewhat masked by camera angles and red stadium seat backs that give the false appearance of being filled. We should cut the students some slack. As outlined by the mayor, there are obviously multiple issue working against the students that want to attend.

But until every non-student seat has a human body in it, not just sold, but filled, perhaps we shouldn't be so quick to judge the students. We should focus on what we can control. Like alumni attendance. And once we fix that we work on alumni participation in the game. After we fix those two things then maybe, we can start to complain about the students.

Bernie said...

I was a student during the end of the Ray Goff era and at the beginning of the Jim Donnan era. I sat in Sanford Stadium until the end of the game for the 1995 Florida game. I watched us lose to Southern Miss. Your argument is invalid. We don't suck anymore, and large sections of the student seats are still empty.

And do you honestly think that students with higher test scores have more friends who aren't UGA students? When I was a student back in the days when UGA students couldn't spell their name (apparently), virtually everybody I knew as a freshman had friends at Georgia College, Truett McConnell (which was the college that owned the Oconee campus at that time), North Georgia College, or some other school within driving distance that would come to UGA on the weekends.

I don't want to hear the bitchin'. If students continue to not show up, the University administration should reduce the students' ticket allotment, plain and simple. Sell the empty upper deck seats to people who will gladly pay $250 per ticket in addition to the full price of the ticket, and who will show up to games, as well.

You can blame other students for not showing up, but ultimately the students as a whole are responsible for the student section. If it is too large for them to fill up, they should try out a smaller student section for a while.

Bernie said...

I think you all hit on good points. At the risk of muddying the waters even more than I usually do, I'll add to and clarify one. A main point is that a lot of people who criticize (whether it's message boreds, blogs, tailgates or what have you) are fans who don't attend or miss games themselves. The student section stands out because so many of those that should be there are either absent, tardy or crammed downstairs with friends. But there have been plenty of empty non-student seats recently as well. So if you have a ticket, use it. And as Vineyarddawg points out, don't leave early. That's poor form. Also, as much as I've criticized the students for not holding up their end of the bargain, I need to commend the ones that are there on time (even suffering through the tsunami at the ASU game in 2009) and don't follow the misguided lead of so many of their peers. For those of us that survived the Goff years, it's like salt in the wounds. Perhaps what we need to do is clone those students who were in Columbia this past weekend. Cuz those young ladies and gentlemen really hunkered down. Despite being spread over four distinct sections there were times we were as loud as - - - M I Z....Z O U!!

Bernie said...

Then we should do the same for the season ticket holders who don't show up or leave early as well.

Bernie said...

Well, if the non-student sections were regularly 50%+ empty, then I would agree with you. But they're not. And I don't think we're talking leaving early, which I also have a problem with. The point is that the students don't even show up at all.

I don't think you'll find any home game in the last 20 years (and I know, I've been to pretty much all of them) where the student section was more full than the stadium at large.

Russell said...

I've only been attending for the last 18 years so forgive me that I disagree with you. The difference in those two precious years has obviously given you the right to be condescending. It's easy to be rude when you hide behind a pseudonym.

The student section is not 50% empty and their attendance this year is better than it was last year.

We, as the alumni, should remove the log from our own eye and fix our own attendance issues before going after a vastly smaller group that, according to a previous and well connected commenter, has issues getting tickets in the first place due to the UGAA system.

Russell Sauve said...

I've only been attending for the last 18 years so forgive me that I disagree with you. The difference in those two precious years has obviously given you the right to be condescending. It's so easy to be rude when you hide behind a pseudonym.

The student section is not 50% empty. The upper deck student section might be 50% full but their attendance this year is better than it was last year.

We, as the alumni, should remove the log from our own eye and fix our own attendance issues before going after a vastly smaller group that, according to a previous and well connected commenter, has issues getting tickets in the first place due to the UGAA system. I'll jump on the student bashing bus when the alumni show up on time, fill their seats, and don't leave early.