By Marcus Mitchell
Without a collegiate team, the best chance UT students have to watch football is on the television screens in their dorm rooms. However, Student Productions gave students the chance to see a football game in the flesh by hosting an off-campus trip to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers season opener against the Tennessee Titans.
While season-opener tickets normally run anywhere from $45-$100, students were able to attend the game for the discounted price of just $25. In addition, the ticket came with a $10 food and drink voucher, a nice perk considering the outrageous prices of stadium food. By far the most enticing factor was Student Productions’ offer of free transportation both to and from Raymond James Stadium, alleviating any parking dilemmas.
With all these discounts and features, going on the trip was a no-brainer for junior and lifelong Bucs fan, Grant Roher.
“I’m from Tampa so I go to Bucs games pretty often,” said Roher. “But with the free transportation and food voucher, this trip was a truly great time and I hope there are other similar opportunities in the future.”
The game itself was nothing special as the Bucs were routed 42-14 by the Titans, and the stadium began to empty out before the game reached its conclusion. In spite of this, the experience was not dampened for junior Micaela Figueroa, who attended her first NFL game last Sunday.
“I was never interested in football before going on this trip, but now I have learned to respect it,” said Figueroa. “At the game, I felt the energy of the crowd and understood the struggle of being a Bucs fan. After attending this game, I have found a reason to follow football.”
While the game itself was lackluster, those who attended were rewarded the treat of seeing Bucs rookie quarterback Jameis Winston in his NFL debut. Winston showed flashes of brilliance but was ultimately outclassed by opposing Titans rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota, who had four touchdowns in the first half of the game.
Seeing these rookies battle it out in their first games as NFL quarterbacks was a sight best seen in person. Or at least that is what one would believe. NFL fanatic and junior Drew Torre begs to differ.
“I’m sure the trip was a great time, but you couldn’t have paid me to go,” said Torre. “There was no way I was about to go sit in plastic seats in the Florida heat. Especially not when I can watch the game on NFL Sunday Ticket from the comfort of my air-conditioned dorm room.”
While watching NFL games on the television is certainly nothing new, the luxuries of choosing to stay in on game days have increased greatly. Before, students who wanted to watch an NFL game had to either hope the game was on one of Brighthouse’s available networks, or they had to illegally stream the game online with a quality that was blurry at best. But now, students are able to catch every game with NFL Sunday Ticket.
Originally, NFL Sunday Ticket was a feature exclusive to DirecTV, a provider unavailable for students living on campus, and the only way students could get access was by purchasing their streaming option, which had a hefty price tag of $350. But just this past week, many students discovered an email from the campus bookstore detailing a student-discounted version of NFL Sunday Ticket for just $100.
“I had NFL Sunday Ticket before and it lets you watch any game you want, keep track of players on your fantasy team and get highlights from games across the league.” said junior Gunnar Wagner. “I saw the email and immediately told my roommates. Being able to watch every game during the season for like $25 [after splitting the cost with roommates] is an opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up on.”
Choosing to stay in to watch football on a flat screen or choosing to go to the game in person are two very different options for college students. It is a choice between comfort and experience, with both being valid in their own right. In spite of their differences, they both give the same thing: an option for students to enjoy football, at a school without a team to call their own.