HAIL: Fail?

Submitted by Brian on August 24th, 2012 at 12:44 PM

Student Section[1]

the problem

Michigan's best-in-class loyalty program has a painfully assembled acronym, which is never a good sign. The details:

The new program will award a student two loyalty points for each non-revenue sporting event they attend. Students attending revenue sports, like football, won't get two loyalty points unless they're early to games.

"In order to get full two points [at revenue sporting events] you have to at least check-in 20 minutes before game time," …

The HAIL rewards scale:

  • 12 points: A Michigan shirt worth $10.
  • 25 points: $5 'blue bucks' deposited directly in students' U-M account.
  • 50 points: Adidas shirt and bag
  • 80 points: Students get $100 in a Flagstar Bank checking account. They also get a Victors Club priority point, which can be use for priority standing when obtaining football or basketball tickets.
  • 100 points: Students receive an invitation to a private athletic department event and get entered to win one of three grand prizes. One grand prize includes season tickets to football, basketball and hockey games for one student. Another grand prize is a $2,000 cash award and another is a two roundtrip airline tickets.
  • The highest point earner will receive recognition during a 2013 home football game.

The article leads off with this justification of the loyalty program…

Wolverine fans, remember Rocket Man? Or the card trick at Michigan Stadium last year?

If you do, you probably remember that Rocket Man was flying toward a near-empty student section and the northwest section of the stadium was sparsely populated during the card trick.

Those pre-gaming students aren't exactly reliable at showing up on time.

…that everyone associated with the program except the missing students is on-board with. But then it says "that's probably about to change." I'm not sure the proposed rewards are sufficient for that statement to be made, but CEO's New Clothes and all that.


the proposed solution: free pencil sharpeners

For students who only attend football games—the vast majority since there are approximately 10x more football season ticket holders than basketball or hockey—there are two groups the loyalty program divides you into:

  • 20 minutes early for every game: free shirt
  • Late for at least one game: no free shirt

Instead of using ticket scans they're making you check in with an app or register at a booth, dropping some number of free shirt people into the no free shirt group because they can't be bothered.

Q: If you were a drunken, 20-minutes-late stumbler last year, is the prospect of not getting yet another yellow shirt going to turn you into R. Lee Ermey?

A: I am so wasted.

The other bits might help flesh out the sparse end of the Yost student section, but to get to the first actual prize (100 bucks, Victors club point) on the list you need to attend 40 events. If you're going to revenue games you have this available:

  • Six football games
  • 21 hockey games
  • 17 basketball games (based on last year's schedule)

Getting to football 20 minutes early is right and just and gets you in to see the band. Getting to hockey or basketball 20 minutes early allows you to hear Nickelback at loud volumes. How many kids are…

  • going to be season ticket holders to all three sports AND devote over eight hours of their time to sitting in the stands before revenue sports other than football
  • OR be season ticket holders in two sports and attend thirteen to sixteen non-revenue events
  • AND remember to check in every time
  • AND not be Lloyd Brady or in the vicinity of Lloyd Brady, i.e., the exact kind of people you do not need to reach?

I'm guessing the number there is exactly zero.

A student loyalty program should  be based on ticket scans and determine priority for next year's seating and and bowl/NCAA lotteries plus involve a number of Victors Club points worthwhile enough to pursue. Those who can't show up on time at all should not get tickets that could go to better-paying and plain better fans. The above plan is a nice bonus for kids who are already fanatics but completely fails to address the major issue.

PROTIP for student mgoblog readers: location spoofer. Wave to me from the field, plz.



August 24th, 2012 at 4:15 PM ^

I think people recognize that the student section is important to the homefield advantage.  That's why it's frustrating to have them not be there - we need them.  

I'm completely in favor of general-admission seating for students.  The students who truly care will make sure to be there on time.  The ones who feel that one that last game of beer pong is a higher priority than getting to the game on time will be compensated with poor seats.


August 24th, 2012 at 4:14 PM ^

Recent grad here also.  

Now that people aren't students it's really easy to say, "Yeah let's make the students' tickets General Admission!"  

Actually I think that would have the opposite effect, more students would say "crap I'm already late, why would I go sit in the last row when I can keep drinking here and watch the game on my 60" big screen with 18 million camera angles and instant replay (via DVR) whenever I want it?  I'm just not going."  

G&A tickets might get the first 50% in the door earlier, but it would probably leave the top sections empty the WHOLE GAME.


August 24th, 2012 at 4:29 PM ^

Actually, the student section, for all practical purposes, was general admission for a long time.     Students had individual seats but it was rare for ushers to ever check, and the few students who dared to call in an usher to complain were pretty much laughed at.  I don't know if I ever sat in my official seat when I was a student.  A lot of times I didn't even sit in the "correct" section.  People pretty much went where they wanted to.  This did not lead to scores of empty seats.  Watch any game from the 1980s/90s/early 00s and you won't see the emptiness in the student section you do now.

Only in the last decade or so has the student section been more serious about assigned seats, and the problem of fan tardiness has been getting progressively worse.  General-admission seating would guarantee - at the least - that the bulk of the student section would be full at kickoff.  If the top few rows are empty but every other row is full, that'd still be a huge improvement over the way it's been lately.    


August 24th, 2012 at 4:30 PM ^

I remember a few people who stopped going to games in 2007 after THE HORROR, but a TON of people stopped going to games in 2008.  Honestly I think three years of losing changed the pregame culture on campus for undergrads.  And I think that's sad.  I don't think it turns around overnight, but hopefully its better this fall.

I'll bet the big house will be packed for the opener this year against Alabama... wait... nevermind.

Colin M

August 24th, 2012 at 4:14 PM ^

I swear I'm not that old (LSA 2006), but your comment really got my old man rage going.In my day (a whole 6 years ago), students did all the stuff you just listed (standing, being loud, wearing maize, etc.) AND THEY SHOWED UP ON GODDAMN TIME OR CLOSE ENOUGH TO IT THAT IT DIDN't MATTER.

Fergodsakes, the Nebraska game was humiliating. The Nebraska fans couldn't believe the student section was half empty late in the first quarter. Thankfully, they forgot about that once Mike Martin forced a pitch from the backside.

We care that the students show up late because they're supposed to be the most passionate fans and it looks like they don't give a shit. Seriously, it's not that hard.


August 24th, 2012 at 4:47 PM ^


I went to the Minnesota and Purdue games last year.  Not two of our biggest opponents although Purdue was our homecoming game.  It couldn't have been more than 35% full 5 minutes into the first quarter.  I thought THAT was embarrassing in itself but I somehow convinced myself that it would be better for bigger opponents. 

That's why it's surprising to hear this was no different when Nebraska came to town. 

This year's home schedule is not even half as attractive as last year's.  Our only big home game is against Sparty.  I'm afraid of the effect this will have on students actually showing up. 


August 24th, 2012 at 4:51 PM ^

By a bunch of Nebraska fans who you've never met before and will never meet again? I think they're probably going to spend more time talking about the beat down they got rather than how full the student section was at the beginning of the game. I'm honestly not trying to be antagonistic. Changing the seating to general admisision seems like it might help the problem and would be a genuine way to reward people who show up on time. just really don't think this is that big of a deal.


August 24th, 2012 at 2:54 PM ^

This loyalty measure will be a real game changer in student section behavior. They'll suddenly all start showing up 20 minutes early, packing the section, so that it no longer looks to millions of viewers on national television like the University of Michigan has an entire student section full of apathetics. What a relief it will be when....oh wait. OK. Now I'm picking up on the sarcasm....




August 24th, 2012 at 3:09 PM ^

Having had season football and hockey tix from 1993 - 2002 (as a student... yes, I know... COLLEGE):

1. Hockey used to be a "sleep outside the ticket office" until priority by number of years. Is that still the case? I was pretty much guaranteed to be behind the parents at center ice by my 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th years of student tix. 

2. A free t-shirt? Are you shitting me? You can get one for fraudently filling out a credit card app at the stadium. 

3. Why not discounted Bowl tickets as a reward if you are ON TIME. 20 minutes early in the seats, I don't see the point.

At $80 for season tix, I don't think the students really care all that much about being on time. Now, if you gave say - 12 free Little Caesar's Pizzas from the Union, that would probably change some tunes. Is there still a LC at the Union? I always traded in my meal credits for dollars so I could eat Subway and by CDs at the Union....



August 24th, 2012 at 3:23 PM ^

Wow, I am impressed that you had hockey tickets for 9 straight years, I thought I was doing well by having tickets for my 8th straight year this coming year. Cannot believe someone has me beat. But, my 5th year tickets weren't great, but this last year's tickets were amazing, even allowing me to sit down during games at times. But yes, it is still done by consecutive years with tickets.


August 24th, 2012 at 3:37 PM ^

Where are the student tickets now? We used to be at center ice. But that was before renovations. I do remember some guy (from Ferris State maybe) named Walrus whose mother I got in a fight with over singing "coo coo ka choo" over, and over, and over. Those were the days. The visiting teams parents used to hate sitting in front of us while we told them their goalie was a siv, vacuum, black hole, etc. 


August 24th, 2012 at 3:56 PM ^

yelling jersey chaser at their girlfriends, ugly parents, cussing all game...  Yost was awesome in the 90s... Then I went back and you couldn't do anything...


I hold a special place in my heart, right next to the silverdome, for yost when I was young...




August 24th, 2012 at 4:25 PM ^

Student tickets are still the entire (east?) side of Yost, with some spillover in a corner of the west side for freshmen if there was high demand. However, they moved the visiting team's parents to the opposite side from the student section and towards the goal line thus making it difficult to actually engage them (with the exception of the one and only shark that decided to eat a couple parents during a drunken rage). They actually moved Michigan's parents down to center ice on the student side for a while, but last year they relegated them to random corners of the arena. The nice seats in the first couple rows behind the Michigan bench we were told were given to sponsors. I had the luck of being the fourth row behind the Michigan bench right before the aisle way, so even though those first few rows behind the Michigan bench are empty, do not sit there as I like to stretch out, and I will call an usher on you (general statement to all the students who think an empty seat means that it's for them to take). Sorry.


August 24th, 2012 at 4:40 PM ^

" even though those first few rows behind the Michigan bench are empty, do not sit there as I like to stretch out, and I will call an usher on you (general statement to all the students who think an empty seat means that it's for them to take). Sorry."

Do you also kick dirt into the eyes of little children and take up two parking spaces at a time?


August 24th, 2012 at 3:11 PM ^

Mgoblog Brandon auto-bitch engaged

If i didnt know better id be surprised that people who have been advocating for a loyalty program are bitching that they created one that isnt perfect in its FIRST YEAR

Obviously the stick is a more effective tool here than the carrot, and i fully expect them to start dinging people once the program is established and accepted


August 24th, 2012 at 3:27 PM ^

It's much easier for students to complete their desired pregame rituals--waking up late, boozing, eating, boozing, etc.--in a timely fashion when games start at 3:00pm. Considering pregame rituals take priority over the actual game, it's unreasonable to expect students to show up early for a 12:00pm game.


August 24th, 2012 at 3:58 PM ^

I graduated LSA just this spring, and IIRC there were progressively fewer and fewer afternoon games each season. As a student, it was always my uneducated and off-based assumption that Mary Sue had pushed for earlier kick-offs to hinder our pregaming efforts. I loved the 8-game home schedule, and the UTL game felt like a gift to the senior class that endured 3 years of RR. But I was still bitter about all the early games.


August 24th, 2012 at 4:13 PM ^

I don't think that's case.  For years, noon games were the standard and 3:30 was reserved for really special games.  If anything, there's been more of a push toward having all the big games at 3:30 (or at night) in recent years.  If we play a game at noon - other than OSU - it's almost guaranteed to be a low-priority game for the networks.



August 24th, 2012 at 4:28 PM ^

my memory is exaggerating the change. In 2008, Utah, Wisconsin, Illinois, and MSU were 3:30 kick-offs. In 2009, Western, Notre Dame, and Penn State were afternoon. In 2010, UConn, MSU, and Iowa. Then last season, only Western and Notre Dame. A decline that I definitely noticed, and I'd assume most pregamers would notice if they hadn't been busy boozin...


August 25th, 2012 at 5:33 PM ^

Complaining about early start times doesn't make me a bad fan, it just makes me a college student. I went to every game for 4 years and only missed a couple of kick-offs. I've lived in Ann Arbor my whole life, and I love Michigan football. But considering that many current students have more experience with Michigan losing than winning, it's logical that casual fans prioritize the pregame experience above the actual games.


August 24th, 2012 at 4:16 PM ^

You don't jump into this system by basing student seats on it the first year. You have to test the technology, how it works on a game day, and how students might game the system first. Then in future years you can put in better rewards like basing ticket location on points.

snarling wolverine

August 24th, 2012 at 4:37 PM ^

This is much too complicated.  Just go with general admission to the student section and that will resolve the problem.  People who really care will make sure to get there on time.  Many schools do this.

Heinous Wagner

August 24th, 2012 at 5:36 PM ^

Loyalty programs remind me of loyalty oaths, which are creepy. That may be next: place your left hand on a copy of "Bo's Lasting Lessons," raise your right hand and swear fealty to Brandon in the name of Canham. All traitors and pinkos (paler shades of scarlet, that is) wil be banished to a yacht ride with Bill Martin.



August 24th, 2012 at 5:56 PM ^

So, a student can win $2,000 in cash and two airline tickets for watching sports, but the kids aren't allowed to take money for playing them?  

It's always great to see the interests of the "student-athlete" are in the capable and caring hands of the NCAA.


August 24th, 2012 at 6:24 PM ^

Whatever happened to bribing students with food?  Isn't that how most campus organizations get people to attend meetings and stuff?  I'm sure I went to some dorm thing for free Stucchi's.  Give out pizza a half hour before the game.  Get off my lawn and all, but to me paying students a cash incentive is tacky.  


The FannMan

August 25th, 2012 at 10:07 AM ^

Simple is better. Just sell students pizzas for two dollars up to 30 minutes before kickoff. Reimburse Poppa Johns and then charge them a higher concession fee next year. This doesn't seem all that difficult.

There is no way the college version of me would have tracked my loyalty points in that detailed a system. Cheap food, however, is easy to figure out.


August 24th, 2012 at 9:14 PM ^

They should address the problem of getting into the stadium before they reward us for being early. The lines are so damn long and charley foxtrott'd that even if you arrive 30 minutes before kickoff you probably wont get in until national anthem or later. Speaking from experience of course. I'm a productive drunk student


August 24th, 2012 at 9:19 PM ^

They should have a loyalty program for old people standing up. Stand up more than once a game and you'll get a free clapper to make more noise


August 25th, 2012 at 9:58 AM ^

Having tried to use my phone at Michigan Stadium to get Twitter updates on injuries, once you get into the bowl, it's a crapshoot to get 3G or 4G.  So now add, let's be conservative and say 10K additional people trying to hail the HAIL app, and I'm seeing a distinct potential problem.  I will not be surprised if we see complaints in this department as much as anything else.

The idea is sound, I'll reserve judgment on execution until we see what happens this season.

Umich Agent 0

August 25th, 2012 at 11:08 AM ^

I have to disagree with a lot of people in here. I think it's less about football and basketball and more about the non revenue sports that no one goes to. It's also not about the average student. It's encouraging people like the maize rage and the children of yost to go bring a presence to other sports like girls softball or water polo or something like that. Some other maize ragers and I are already talking about hitting every single sport to get that $100 gift card.

Section 1

August 26th, 2012 at 9:53 AM ^

I guess that I am going to have to be the first to suggest a different problem, and solution.

I see the students showing up 20 minutes late for the games, because they stood in an unmoving crowd for 20 minutes outside of the north-perimter entry gates, a/k/a Gate 9, waiting to get in. 

Get more entryways opened.  Get more ticket takers.  Speed it up.