On the face of it, no, the Alabama football coach doesn’t have the right to tell you how to spend your time and money.
But let’s look at it another way. The biggest offenders are Alabama students, who sometimes leave their seats looking emptier than the stands at a high school junior varsity game. So, when Saban chided fans this week for leaving early, there’s little doubt he aimed his comments at them.
These are the same students who were given block seating this year by the university, which allowed campus organizations to have rows reserved for them. In return, they were asked not to show up excessively late or leave early from games. According to AL.com, about 20 student groups have had their block seating suspended for today’s games.
These are the same students who Saban addressed in a letter to The Crimson White early in the season, asking them to come to games and be loud: “Sometimes the result of a game may come down to a single play, and we all have a role in what the result of that play may be. You have an impact, whether it is the noise on third down when the opposing team has the ball, or the energy you provide for the players when we try to win the fourth quarter.”
Even so, these are the same students who empty out the place as if somebody is giving away free cars outside the stadium.
From 2008 to 2012, according to an excellent report by The CW, students filled about 63 to 72 percent of their section per season. So it’s hard to blame Saban when he says, “Maybe if you’re not interested in (staying the whole game), you should let someone else go who would really like to go because I have a lot of people who want to go.”
Contact Anniston Star Sports Editor Mark Edwards at email@example.com. Twitter: @MarkSportsStar.