Opinion | May the opt-in process be ever in your favor

But seriously, we wish you the best.

No matter what Alabama sports you follow, you’re probably familiar with the feeling of disappointment as you open up your email to find yet another unfulfilled ticket request. Whether you want to watch Devonta Smith catch yet another touchdown pass in Bryant-Denny Stadium, cheer on Alex Reese and Bama hoops in the Coleman Coliseum or support Crimson Tide softball at Rhoads Stadium, you’ve probably had to do it through a TV screen this year.

With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting occupancy limits, the opt-in process is leaving many students feeling disappointed and a bit frustrated as they struggle to attend sporting events in their favorite stadiums. Although the pandemic has undoubtedly created new barriers to entry, some students can’t help but take it out on Alabama athletics as well.

Kinley Smith, a freshman majoring in English and philosophy, has opted in for every football, basketball and gymnastics event and has yet to receive a ticket. When asked about how the athletic department handled ticket sales this year, she was conciliatory. 

“I think that [the University] did the best with what they could, except maybe the percentages could have been better,” Smith said.

For these events, 40-45% of tickets were given to seniors, 20% to juniors, 15% each to the sophomore and freshman classes, and 5% to graduate students. As a freshman, 15% of student tickets are allocated for students like Smith. But she has yet to get a single one. Fellow freshman Lela Connors, who is studying chemical engineering and mathematics, was looking forward to attending a game in Bryant-Denny as part of her freshman college experience, but with so little tickets awarded to freshman, she was unable to get one.

Like many other students, Connors has had a tough time adjusting to college in the middle of a pandemic but “not being able to experience a UA football game in Bryant-Denny stadium made it even more difficult and frustrating,” she said.

Upperclassmen are being affected just as much, especially seniors. Having their last few years of college ruined by a pandemic is inconvenient to say the least, and the UA athletics department certainly took this into consideration as they shaped the opt-in process.

The department attributed the decision behind the staggered percentages to “SGA strongly recommending rewarding as many seniors as possible with tickets.” This decision is further reflected in the baseball ticket percentages which are significantly different than previous sporting events. According to a recent Athletics email, 70% of tickets will go to seniors, 15% to juniors, and 5% each for the sophomores, freshmen, and graduate students. When asked about this change, a representative from athletics said that “history shows more seniors tend to scan in for the Right Field Area, so we went with the higher quantity in this case.”

However, this leaves many other students disheartened. After only receiving two tickets all year, freshman management information systems student Madison Reiser said she was disappointed when she learned that her chances of seeing a baseball game would be even lower than her chances to see other sporting events.

“Baseball is my favorite sport and I was looking forward to going to games, but that’s very unlikely now,” Reiser said.

Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the college experience and sporting events for everyone. Sophomore computer engineering student Ashtan Moore said she’s trying to stay open-minded, though.

“I feel like they have done the best they can with the given situations,” Moore said.

UA athletics is also trying to look on the bright side.

“We were happy to be able to actually have fans in attendance because many across the country could not,” the representative said.

Looking ahead to next year, the department is “planning on full stadiums [and] pre pandemic operations with season tickets.” Until then, may the opt-in process be ever in your favor.