Late last week, Texas A&M Aggies Athletic Director Ross Bjork discussed what gameday at Kyle Field might look like this fall. He said under current state guidelines for sporting events operating at a maximum of 50% capacity, that Kyle Field could hold approximately 55,000 fans. But the more controversial part of his statement was that A&M plans to accommodate all season ticket holders, but cut student seating in half in order to reduce to that capacity.
Is it fair for A&M to cater to season ticket holders first? More importantly, is it the right decision? Good Bull Hunting’s Robert Behrens and Rush Roberts debate the merits of each.
First of all, this whole argument assumes we will actually have fans in the stands at football games, which we very well may not. I trust that A&M will make the right call on that based on what the situation looks like eight weeks from now, with guidance from government officials as well as health experts. But assuming we do get 55,000 butts in Kyle Field beginning Sept. 26, I have zero problem with the athletic department catering to season ticket holders.
It’s easy to see this move as A&M being money-hungry, but in many ways, raking in those seat donations from season ticket holders is the absolute best thing the athletic department can do for their student athletes. And I mean all student athletes, not just football players. Universities across the country are shelving non-revenue sports. Stanford, perhaps the gold standard of across-the-board athletic excellence, recently ended 11 varsity sports. While A&M is known for being flush with cash, we are not immune to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The obscene revenues generated by football have long supported many other scholarship sports that couldn’t exist otherwise. Take away enough of that revenue, and those sports are no longer possible.
So in these most unique of circumstances, yes, I am all for maximizing ticket revenue from season ticket holders in order to ensure the financial security of our athletic department, for the benefit of student athletes across every sport.
Yes, A&M boasts the largest student section in college football, and cutting that section in half feels wrong as an Aggie. But we can’t look at football in 2020 through a normal lens. Everything is weird right now, and nothing will be as it normally is. But even if the student section is cut down to 17,000 students or less, that is still larger than the vast majority of student sections during normal times. And I’d wager that you still won’t find a school with more students in the stands this fall than Texas A&M. It likely means that many students who would have liked to go football games can’t, and that’s unfortunate, but we currently live in a world filled with unfortunate circumstances, so just add this one to the pile.
After all, after about 50k people, it all sounds the same.
Maybe we’re asking the wrong questions.
College football has the word college in it. Student-athlete has the word student in it. Stands to reason there should be lots of students at college football games. These are straightforward and self-evident arguments, but I can’t really make them right now in good faith. It seems specious to pretend this is a debate meant for conventional choices when the dilemma being debated has been caused by such unusual circumstances.
The debate shouldn’t be “who gets to come to Kyle Field,” but instead “when do we let them leave?”
The guiding principle among institutional leadership across the country right now is to prioritize profit before any meaningful and dedicated effort to stop the spread of the virus. Here at A&M, aka THE CEO FACTORY, let’s prove that we’re ready to lead the charge once again, and maybe even make a dent in COVID while we’re at it.
The Kyle Field Super Bubble will allow a certain number (40-50k? the max allowable of course) of Texas A&M’s
most deserving wealthiest alumni to check in for the Arkansas game on September 26th and check out following the LSU game the night of November 28th.
Put them in student housing, hotels, RVs, whatever. Cordon off campus. Seal up the steam tunnels. No escape. If people are willing to risk public health for football games, the least we can do is place the same movement restrictions upon them as we do with athletes. Have them face the same day-to-day uncertainties that the gameday workers face. Prove that we really are “all in this together.”
Of course there are a hundred logistical issues to figure out between now and then, but I’m confident John Sharp can figure it out. Millions of
lives dollars are at stake.
How do you feel about cutting the student section in half for 2020?
This poll is closed
It sucks, but it’s necessary
It’s an abomination