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Alabama is tracking students’ locations to penalize them for leaving football games early

For The Win logo For The Win 9/12/2019 Andrew Joseph

a stadium full of people: USA TODAY © USA TODAY USA TODAY In recent years, Alabama head coach Nick Saban has complained about student attendance at football games. Notably, he hasn't particularly liked that students either leave early or don't show up for non-conference cupcake games against teams like The Citadel and New Mexico State.

Well, Alabama now has a plan to keep students inside Bryant-Denny Stadium for all four quarters, and … it's just a bit creepy.

According to a report from The New York Times, Alabama had its students install a version of the app, FanMaker, that tracks their locations while inside the stadium. If they leave early, the app knows and doesn't award them the loyalty points that are needed for perks like College Football Playoff tickets.

Via The Times:

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 app had issues during last week's game against New Mexico State with servers crashing, error messages and long lines at help kiosks. The school has also faced privacy questions about the technology - especially with Alabama being a public university - tracking locations, but athletic director Greg Byrne said that students aren't tracked while outside the stadium. He noted that students could delete the app upon leaving the game and re-download it each week.

But really, this new technology seems relatively easy to work around. I'll give it a couple weeks until fraternity and sorority pledges are stuck holding dozens of phones for active members.

That's going to happen - just watch.

Of course, Saban could also do his part to improve student attendance by - I don't know - scheduling some marquee non-conference games at home.


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