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Post Why I opted out

Thursday August 27, 2020

In April I posted a few thoughts about my decision to renew season tickets for the 2020 season during the early stages of the pandemic. I concluded that “renewing season tickets now bought me time to watch and wait and make a more informed decision months from now.”

The time for that decision is now. Georgia and the SEC plan to play football. The league is leaving attendance policies up to the individual schools based on local regulations, and most schools, including Georgia, will be at around 20% capacity. With a month or so to reallocate tickets under the new arrangement, Georgia had one question for its donors and season ticket holders: are you in or out? Fans had until yesterday, August 26th, to decide whether to opt in to the pool of applicants for tickets or opt out for the 2020 season.

It was a difficult decision, but I have opted out and will miss home games for the first time since 1990. In my April post, I outlined a few criteria I had in mind for attending games, and I don’t believe that we’re there yet. I’m encouraged by the trends in Georgia as we come down from a summer peak, but there is still considerable community transmission. Our therapeutic toolkit has improved since the spring, but the most promising treatments are still in trials. It’s possible (and likely) that the numbers and available treatments will be even better in a month’s time as we kick off, but we’re being asked to make a decision now based on information at hand.

There’s more to it than just the medical risk. For many of us the social element of gameday is as important as the action on the field. It’s an opportunity to bring together friends and groups from around the state (and beyond) and rekindle family bonds and traditions that span generations. It’s a cliché that football is a religion in the South, but gameday sure does seem like a ritual.

We don’t know yet whether tailgating will be allowed. (On-campus tailgating, that is. Off-campus tailgating won’t be under the University’s control but will still have to follow state and local regulations for gatherings.) It’s safe to say though that the social element of gameday will be disrupted. You and your friends could receive tickets to different games. You won’t be sitting in the same location around the same group with whom you’ve gone through the highs and lows of each season. You will park, go to the game, maybe catch a bite in town, and head home. We’ve all probably gone to a game in that way before, and it’s pretty much how I attend basketball games. It’s not how most of us prefer to spend a football Saturday. Those changes are understandable and necessary just to have anyone in the stands this year, but for the trouble, the risks, and the uncertainty of seat location and game, the at-home setup – or watching the game at a private and distanced tailgate – sounds pretty good this year.

Georgia’s refund policy made the decision easier. The policy allows us to convert this year’s sunk costs into priority points or a refund. More importantly, I’ll keep my seat location and priority going forward regardless of my opt-in/out decision. I chose to convert my donation since it is meant to support all of Georgia’s programs and not just football. Others need the refund, and it’s the minimum of decency to offer that option without penalty for the 2021 season.

Much has changed since April. We’ve learned a tremendous amount, but that’s led to other questions. One thing that’s remained unchanged is this: as things reopen and events resume, we can control our participation. We each have our own risk tolerance and financial situation, and its our responsibility to make our own decisions based on the best available information. I’m glad that Georgia’s policy allowed some flexibility with very little downside, and I would have been disappointed with the program had a less generous policy been offered. I’ll very much miss attending games if they’re played – I’ve been to every home game since I enrolled. I’ll miss just as much seeing the usual crew and reuniting with my extended family inside and outside of the stadium. I see those as small sacrifices for myself and my family to navigate safely through this pandemic. You might disagree, and please bark twice as loud for me.

With my decision over and done with, I just hope they can play safely. Wear your mask.

One Response to 'Why I opted out'

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  • I agree 100% – I’ve attended almost every home game since I started at UGA in 1983 (I believe I have missed 4 home games since 1983) My decision was not so much health related as it was the entire game day experience. I take my immediate family to each home game, which totals 5 people so the 4 ticket option was a no go combined with the lack of tailgating made it an easy decision. I will contribute my funds to the COVID-19 relief fund and hope for a normal 2021 !!! We will pull for the dawgs every play from Lake Oconee!!! Go Dawgs !!!

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