If you’re an Alabama student who has the school’s student loyalty app, the athletic department knows when you’ve left Bryant-Denny Stadium on game day.
Alabama’s new program to entice students to stay through entire games involves awarding extra loyalty points to those who don’t leave early. And those points are awarded via location tracking, as the app tracks students who have their phones inside the stadium. If a student shows as present for the fourth quarter, he or she gets those bonus points.
The creator of the app, FanMaker, runs apps for 40 colleges, including Clemson, Louisiana State and Southern California, which typically reward fans with gifts like T-shirts. The app it created for Alabama is the only one that tracks the locations of its students. That Alabama would want it is an example of how even a powerhouse program like the Crimson Tide is not sheltered from college football’s decline in attendance, which sank to a 22-year low last season.
The Tide Loyalty Points program works like this: Students, who typically pay about $10 for home tickets, download the app and earn 100 points for attending a home game and an additional 250 for staying until the fourth quarter. Those points augment ones they garner mostly from progress they have made toward their degrees — 100 points per credit hour. (A regular load would be 15 credits per semester, or 1,500 points.)
The points accrued then go toward priority for postseason tickets. The more points you have, the higher priority you have.
And there are, of course, some privacy concerns expressed in the article above. While students are obviously consenting to their data being used in this manner by downloading the app, you can’t get the points unless you have the app. And since Alabama is a public school, this is a version of the state tracking where people are, even if it’s only inside the stadium as athletic director Greg Byrne told the Times.
If you don’t want your public university tracking you in the stadium, this app is not for you.
Saban has long wanted students to stay for entire game
Alabama’s move toward a student loyalty program has been a long time in the making. Reports of the possibility of the program came out in April and Alabama confirmed to Yahoo Sports then that it was a “work in progress.”
Plus, student attendance has long been a point of contention for Alabama coach Nick Saban. Saban is not a fan of students leaving early, even in blowouts. The topic of students staying for the entire game even came up again after Alabama’s 62-10 win over New Mexico State in Week 2.
“It enhances the value of our program if our stadium is full and people stay for 60 minutes in a game,” Saban said. “From my standpoint, I always want to see the stadium full and I want to see people stay for 60 minutes of the game.”
“We expect our players to compete for 60 minutes in the game. I’m not satisfied with the way some of our players competed in the fourth quarter. The second team guys and all that. So, I mean, I’d like to get to see them get supported just like some of the people that are fun to watch. I would love for the students to stay there for the whole game. And I know that we’ve tried to enhance with some of the things that we’re doing to try to get them to do that. But that’s a choice and decision that they have to make.”
He then got even more passionate about the subject.
“Everybody wants to be a part of the team. Everybody wants to be number one. But not everyone wants to do what the beast does. Everybody wants to be the beast but they don’t want to do what the beast do. So everybody’s got to make a sacrifice. You want to be the lion? Everybody got to do something.”
Will the something that the Alabama athletic department is doing to entice students to say working? We’ll have a better idea when SEC play begins later this month and if other schools start to follow suit.
– – – – – – –
Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
More from Yahoo Sports: