My how the times have changed. When I was a young buck at UF, landing season tickets for football was like finding a golden ticket in your Wonka Bar. Sure it was the Ron Zook Era (pauses for uncomfortable remembrances of the Zook/Zaunbrecher tag-team of futility) but it was football in The Swamp. Yell, scream, cheer, chant, sweat, sway, have fun.
It was a bastard winning those tickets. Priority was given to upperclassmen, and even once you leapt that crediting hurdle, there was the phone system. Oh that glorious phone system. Pimping every person with a telephone and spare time to call for your tickets. Double fisting your landline and cell. More lines, more chances to win. There’s nothing quite like staring out your dorm window at the student entrance to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, hearing your 437th consecutive busy signal, and knowing it ain’t happening. It’s that first tangible feeling of rejection.
A few years into my stint, UF unveiled the online lottery system. By that time I was a shoe-in for tickets, having paid my dues, but the rejection was still there for a younger generation. If anything, it probably awakened many students to the cold realities of post-graduation job hunts: filling out electronic forms, sending them into the void, hoping for good news, and receiving cold Dear John letters two months after submission.
Which all brings us back to modern day. Last week, assistant sports editor for The Independent Florida Alligator Richard Johnson tweeted out the following letter. It’s a memo from Jeremy Foley asking students (in the most typically polite Jeremy Foley way) to purchase student tickets. Meaning: there are still tickets to be bought well after the lottery deadline was supposed to have closed.
A look at the student tickets brochure shows the 2014 season package running for $105 ($15 per home game). Not cheap for the average college kid, but at least reasonable when viewed as a per-game investment. Couple the value of being in one of the nation’s best venues and it seems like a bargain (one game=one XL one-topping Five Star Pizza).
Is it because of a 4-8 season? Or is it general apathy? Who knows. Gate attendance is a burgeoning problem in all athletics (pro and college), but the thought of it hitting The Swamp was unfathomable.
… as the present now will later be past, the order is rapidly fadin’. And the first one now will later be last …