Game days return to Alabama

Anika Clark, Contributing Writer

One of the most cherished traditions of football season is tailgating. Whether it’s for the NFL or college, fans gather to eat food, play games and cheer on their favorite teams. That tradition reaches another level in Tuscaloosa. 

After a year of cheering on the Crimson Tide from home, Alabama football fans and students packed the Quad on Saturday for the team’s home opener. The familiar sight of tents in front of Gorgas Library returned. Bryant-Denny Stadium was at full capacity for the first time since 2019. 

“It’s just a great, great scene. It feels so good to be back and feel normal again,” said Ann and Ken Damsgard, frequent game day attendees.  

The Million Dollar Band returned to full strength this season after only performing in sections last fall due to COVID-19 restrictions. Some 400 members stood in front of the steps of Gorgas and played the Alabama Fight Song, along with other game day classics. 

“Game-day atmosphere is unmatched,” said sophomore Thomas Otts, a member of the Million Dollar Band. “I am unbelievably excited to be out here with the 399 members of the Million Dollar Band and the greatest student body in the world. Are you really even an UA student if you aren’t hype for this?”

That energy carried over into the stadium. As in years past, a mass of students and fans made their way from the Quad to Bryant-Denny. Fans cheered and shook their shakers as the Crimson Tide rolled over the Mercer Bears, 48-14.

“It’s just amazing to be back in full effect,” senior Lauren Montgomery said. “I missed the tailgates so much. It is a little stressful because COVID is still going around, but I’m excited.”

For some students, Saturday marked their first traditional Alabama game day experience. 

“I am so excited,” freshman Elena Schroder said. “I’ve never been to an Alabama football game so I’m just really intrigued to see how it works out.” 

The excitement inside the stadium reached another level. Many fans stayed until the end of the game to give the team the support they could not give during the 2020 season. 

While the energy in the stadium felt overwhelmingly positive, some students also felt uncomfortable. Throughout the tailgate and the game on Saturday, a group of students chanted “F— Joe Biden” during the game.

This has been happening at several college campuses

“Alabama fans took part in the chant last week and Auburn fans did this week,” Patrick Schmidt wrote on Fansided. “This might be the first time in the Iron Bowl rivalry where Crimson Tide and Tigers fans can agree on something.”

Alabama is no stranger to political demonstrations during games. In a 2019 matchup against LSU, former President Donald Trump visited Bryant-Denny, and several students protested him before and during the game.

For some fans, this may seem like a harmless chant. For others, it ruined the otherwise positive atmosphere in Bryant-Denny. 

“The atmosphere felt somewhat negative,” freshman Alexis Dryjanski said. “I sat near the frats, and every so often they would start chanting that. I wanted to feel more connected to the student body as one school, but bringing up politics felt dividing.” 

Freshman Dylan Merritt felt sad about the situation because she wonders what the president and his actions have to do with the football team. Other students echoed these feelings, saying that the chants were “uncalled for” and “completely disrespectful.”

The return of Alabama game day has its highs and lows. One thing is for certain, however. Fans missed being able to cheer on the Crimson Tide.