Alabama Football Tracking Student Fans' Locations to Keep Them at Games

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistSeptember 12, 2019

Fans fill Bryant Denny Stadium on homecoming day before an NCAA college football game between Alabama and Georgia State on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Butch Dill/Associated Press

In an effort to keep students in the stadium throughout football games, the University of Alabama has begun tracking students on their phones during games, according to Billy Witz of the New York Times

Students receive "Tide Loyalty Points" on the FanMaker app, including a reported 100 points for attending a game and an additional 250 for staying until the fourth quarter. Fans with a high number of points can receive improved access to postseason tickets like the SEC Championship and bowl games.

The app tracks the students only while they are in Bryant-Denny Stadium to determine who deserves points.

Although some students have expressed concern about the monitoring, Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne explained that it's not much different than other apps on a phone. 

"If anybody has a phone, unless you're in airplane mode or have it off, the cellular companies know where you are," he said.

He also noted that students can simply turn off or delete the app if needed.

There are reportedly 40 schools who use the FanMaker app but Alabama is the only one that uses it to track the students for games. Per Witz, the University of North Carolina also uses location-tracking technology to check if student-athletes are in class.

Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban has complained about fans not staying for the entire game, recently questioning their commitment to success, via Jenna West of Sports Illustrated:

"So everybody's got to make a sacrifice. You want to be the lion? Everybody got to do something. Everybody wants to be No. 1. If I asked that whole student section, do you want to be No. 1? Nobody would hold their hand up and say I want to be No. 4. They would all say No. 1. But are they willing to do everything to be No. 1? That's another question. You can ask them that. I don't know the answer."

This came after a 62-10 blowout win over New Mexico State on Saturday.

Other schools have incentivized staying for an entire game, including the University of Maryland, which raffles off a $5,000 scholarship in the fourth quarter for students who remain in the stands.