Ding dong, the wicked general admission policy is dead.
The Athletic Department announced today that the policy that hoped to encourage student participation during football games has been replaced with a revamped assigned seating plan. The original general admission seating policy, which was doomed from the beginning when it was announced last year, was a colossal flop from the athletic department. Combine that with a significant ticket price increase, it just didn't sit well with the dedicated students -- seniors in particular -- who showed up to every home game and earned their front row seat that was taken from them.
On a personal level, it created one of the worst Michigan football viewing experiences I have ever been apart of. I survived the general admission era and lived to tell the tale.
Last season was my last with Michigan student section tickets. I arrived to games on time, I was loud and I was dedicated to the program. On a personal level, I felt a little insulted with the new policy. The students who do care about showing school spirit during football games, and yes they do exist, are being pushed aside in hopes they could fill the stadium before kickoff.
It didn't work.
Every game I saw people sneaking into sections that required wristbands for entry. The wristbands were reserved for the very first students arrived who are assigned to the first 15 rows. Want to sneak into the first 15 rows under the general admissions policy? Simple. Find a friend and ask your neighbor to take off their wristband, walk to the section and hand your friend the other wristband and have them put it on. Enjoy the nice seats.
It was a complete mess, but it was worse during certain points during the year.
Under the Lights against Notre Dame is the first time I have actually wanted to leave a game and watch it at a bar. I've witnessed some pretty horrific Michigan games in person (Appalachian State and Toledo come to mind), but the things I witnessed and endured during that game was enough to make me hate the policy.
Students were sitting on the stairs of the aisles to watch the game because they showed up late. Michigan Stadium is already crammed to begin with, but when you have to step over students just to get up the stairs, that's when things have gone too far. Multiple students were asked to leave the aisle by the ushers to prevent a safety hazard, and the students around me refused.
Do you kick these students out who paid money to be there? Or do you let them sit there? Nothing was done except moving them into the aisles.
Typically during a game, the student section stands which means the benches are used for leverage to see. Having a student stand below peeking through the gap between is fine for the first two quarters, but the halftime show was ruined by students cramming to sit down and having to sit on each others laps to find room.
After the half, I heard a couple ask two students to move because they are sitting in their seats. Seats they paid $500 dollars for. The Athletic Department sold two tickets to non-students in the student section, madness ensued.
That day was an abnormally hot one for mid-September, especially at eight o'clock at night. Combine the temperature with having to stand sideways just to fit on the bench, it was a disgusting and sweaty mess. I've never wanted a shower so badly as I did after being at that game.
The best (or worst) was yet to come.
The game against Ohio State was probably icing on the cake with how awful this policy is. A group of thirty-something Ohio State fans invaded the row behind me.They purchased their tickets from students they ran into on campus. Typically, when entering the stadium, a student ID is required before entry. How these gentleman were actually enter the stadium is beyond me. I was about halfway up the student section which was surprising considering I was an hour early and usually would have terrific seats earlier in the season, a wristband was not needed, so it was essentially a free-for-all in regards to what section and seat you wanted. Lucky for me, they chose the seats directly behind me.
Already permeating with the stench of booze, these raucous and disrespectful fans smuggled their shooters and pints into the stadium and openly drank them. Cursing at every Michigan student they could get the attention of and yelling unintelligent things such as, "Grab Brady a donut," the experience was awful. Not to mention the result of that game made it even worse.
In my last game as a student in Michigan Stadium, it should've been a time of enjoyment. With this general admissions policy, it made that impossible to do so.
There is no excuse for the way the students failed to fill the student section. Although the down year hasn't helped, the general admission policy didn't exactly help promote student participation. In fact, it made things worse. The donuts didn't help either (sorry Coach Hoke).
In hearing the news that the general admission policy is no longer being used by the Athletic Department, I was excited for the students. The seniors who can be rewarded for their dedication, and the future students who are ready and willing to bring their Wolverine pride to every home game, can continue setting the standard of how a Michigan student section should be. Instead of a hodgepodge of students who are there coming down from a drunken stupor and just want to get out of the dorm.
Sure, the assigned seats aren't a perfect fix either some games it was a mess as well. But at least assigned seats make everything easy to manager and people won't have to reenact the Hunger Games to find a seat.
Either way, this is a major victory for the Athletic Department and the student body. Those who stay should be rewarded.