Is it OK to Leave a Game Early?

Alabama's Bryant-Denny Stadium

Is it OK to Leave a Game Early?

Recently, Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban spoke out against fans leaving his team's games before the final whistle. Saban's point is that it hurts recruiting by taking away from the atmosphere inside of the stadium. While Saban does have a point, the fans at Alabama and other schools around the country certainly do not owe the coach or the team anything and have every right to leave if the game is not entertaining.



Create Exciting Matchups

Perhaps the main reason for fans leaving Alabama games early is the schedule. Thus far, the Tide has played Colorado State, Ole Miss, Georgia State, Arkansas and Tennessee at home. With all due respect to those schools, they did not have a chance at beating a very good Crimson Tide squad. Each of those games was a blowout and, therefore, fans left early.

While the Tide must play Ole Miss, Arkansas and Tennessee because of conference scheduling, the school's athletic director, Bill Battle, has not done a good job at scheduling competitive out-of-conference games. If Alabama chooses to play weaker schools on its out-of-conference schedule, it should come as no surprise that the fans do not stay until the end.


Traffic Matters

Bryant-Denny Stadium is one of the most iconic places to watch a football game in the United States. It has a great deal of history and will always attract fans. It also holds 101,821 people. If all of those people were to leave the game at once, the traffic would be absolutely horrible.

There are numerous parking lots found in the area around Bryant-Denny Stadium, but limited ways to exit the university campus. This problem is not unique to Tuscaloosa, as the areas around most stadiums get congested before and after games. Saban obviously does not have to wait in traffic after the game, but the fans do. If leaving early minimizes this problem, it is well worth it for most fans.


Game Day as an Event

College football is about more than the actual game, as the entire day has turned into an event. This starts well before the game with tailgating and continues after the game with more tailgating and parties afterward. In this digital world, people get bored quickly. They have more important things to do, such as partying, watching tv, or working on their fantasy football analysis. If the score is 48-0 at half, it’s time to do something else.

The fact of the matter is that football has to compete with other entertainment options, and if the game on the field is not entertaining, fans will leave in search of other options.


Give the Fans a Reason to Stay

Leaving before the end of a game does not make someone any less of a fan, it simply means the person has better things to do than watch the end of a blowout. These fans do not leave competitive games early, but when the outcome is not in doubt, there is no reason to stay.

If Alabama’s home games were played between closely matched teams and came right down to the wire, this would not be a problem. At the end of the day, the fans are spending their money on tickets, so they have the right to leave if they wish.