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Saturday, May 01, 2004
One of the most controversial issues of the day in Tennessee is this U.T. season ticket fiasco. The administration, showing their usual acumen for public relations, decided to renege on a long-standing agreement with longtime season ticket holders who, in the past, have been allowed to keep their tickets sans donations. Apparently, this policy is going to change. And some aren't liking it.
Now, I'm not around the Vol nation like I once was. I used to hold season tickets myself, but decided that it was simpler just to pay the "man on the street" for the privilege of attending a Vol game. Well, there are expenses to be met, and U.T. never met a person in orange out of whom they didn't want to siphon some cash. So why not capitalize on the market and get what you can, right? After all, that's how free enterprise works.
Well, here's where I get upset like the rest of you Tennesseeans. We've never been much for being gouged on prices (which might explain the success of barter shanties like Green Acres, and that little hoedown they have on Highway 27 that they call the "Biggest Flea Market in the World.") It's obvious that this is becoming one big blunder for the U.T. athletic department.
Why do I think so? Read the News Sentinel, and you'll see that even some famous football alums are refusing to ante up as per the new policy:
Former University of Tennessee fullback Curt Watson is among many ticket holders who object to the new policy.
Watson, a FedEx pilot who lives in Florida with his family, sent Hamilton a letter last month saying he is not renewing six season tickets that have been in his family for decades.
Watson also said he will boycott a reunion of 600-700 UT football players at the Sept. 4 home opener at Neyland Stadium.
"I won't come to the games because of what they have done,'' said Watson, a Crossville native and former member of the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels flying team.
"It's a disgrace. I find it highly unethical they are going back against what they said in 1986. That's when they told all those supporters who had been to games for years, through thick and thin, that they could keep their grandfathered tickets without a donation as long as they kept buying them.
"When somebody breaks their word, you can't trust them anymore."
So, to those who don't give a rip about a silly game of football (ouch, it hurts just suggesting that), maybe you don't see the reason for the hoopla. But people like Curt Watson do. It's because the university made a promise, and now they are trying to back out of it. I was in high school back then, and I remember the university stating clearly that this would always be their policy. Need, or no need, it should remain so, if for no other reason than credibility.
Fortunately, Curt Watson has some perspective:
Watson said he hasn't attended any home games the last two seasons because he and his wife have two special-needs children and cannot leave their son unattended.
"Maybe we could afford the contribution UT is asking for, but we can't justify it,'' he said.
"I think it's more important to give it to juvenile diabetes, or to a learning center for kids with Down syndrome like my son has. I think they need it more than the athletic department does."
Well said, Mr. Watson. Well said.
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