Saturday, September 8, 2007

What Alabama Really Values

It's a college-football Saturday, a high holy day in the Deep South, so let's go with a story that mixes sports and politics.

We often hear about "Alabama values," although I've never been able to figure out exactly what they are. U.S. Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL) even used the term to defend himself after he was upbraided by Daily Kos for praising Republican Alabama Governor Bob Riley.

But The Birmingham News brings us a story that says a lot about what Alabamians truly value. A significant number of University of Alabama football fans, desperate to watch new coach Nick Saban lead the Tide against Vanderbilt today in Nashville, have bought Vanderbilt season tickets. UA's allotment of 4,000 single-game tickets was gobbled up quickly, so many Roll Tiders were left with only one option--if they wanted to see the game in person (it is being televised live), they had to buy Vanderbilt season tickets.

And many of them evidently were more than happy to do it. Vandy ticket manager Eric Jones was not able to say how many season tickets were purchased by Alabama fans. But he said many phone calls and orders came from the 205 area code (Birmingham area).

The bottom line? In order to watch one football game in person, Alabamians were willing to pay $99 for a Vandy season ticket in the end zone or $175 for a sideline season ticket. After today's game, the Tiders will have three options--attend the rest of Vandy's games, try to scalp the tickets to Vandy fans, or just eat the rest of the tickets and consider it an excellent investment in the Nick Saban vision.

Where does politics play into this? Well, Alabama consistently has among the nation's lowest tax burdens. Initiatives to raise taxes even by modest amounts, either locally or statewide, almost always fail.

So what are Alabama values? We can sum it up this way:

* Need money so Alabama children can have a decent education, perhaps in a classroom and not a trailer? Forget it.

* Need money so we can hire enough state troopers to keep our highways from being among the deadliest in the country? Not a chance.

* Need a $175 so I can watch St. Nick Saban coach one football game? Let me get my credit card!

1 comment:

Robby Scott Hill said...

It's college football no kidding. I learned this first hand when I worked at the State Lands Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation. When the Tommy Tuberville Auburn Trustees Scandal exploded in 2003, Conservation Commissioner Barnett Lawley missed several months of work while he participated in the political coup d├ętat at Auburn. While Lawley was at Auburn, he left the Department in the hands of Siegelman appointees and Paul Bryant Jr., the son of the famous coach, was calling them trying to get federal pass through grants steered to Alabama instead of Auburn while Lawley was out of the office. When Lawley finally returned to his regular job in 2004 he began building paper trails on the Siegelman crowd.