Trying to piece together a perfect system of awarding points on IPTAY priority is about as complex as getting all movie critics to agree on what the best movie of the year is. Because of the drastic dynamics of a fan base coming from completely different financial backgrounds, the goal of a system where everybody is happy is a futile attempt for sure.
That is not to say that Terry Don Phillips and his staff in the IPTAY department haven’t tried to put together a plan that rewards longevity and cumulative giving, as noted in the current point structure that distributes points to IPTAY members based on both criteria. These priority points are used to determine seating for home games, parking assignments, and bowl ticket purchasing priority. Some like the current system and some hate it.
There is one calculation in the current system, however, that seems missing from the priority point distribution that I think is as valuable as longevity and cumulative giving. Is it possible to incorporate priority points for traveling with the Tigers outside of Death Valley?
Up until three years ago, I would go to two or three road games a year in addition to all home games at Death Valley. The past three years I’ve had the wonderful opportunity of traveling to all of the games because of the pre game show, and I have learned so much about the type of fan that travels with the Tigers.
Three years ago, I assumed most fans that traveled to road games were fans that lived in proximity of where the game was being played. Those Clemson fans attending the game in Charlottesville were northern North Carolina and Virginia residents by and large, or so I assumed.
Now, having traveled to all Clemson road games for three straight years, I realize a much different reality. Many of the fans that travel to road games actually travel to multiple road games. I noticed over time that I kept bumping into the same faces each and every week. The number of fans that actually attend multiple road games is something I can only guess at. But I would venture to say that the number is close to 1000 or more.
The people traveling to multiple road games are road warriors, and they deserve to be rewarded with priority points in the IPTAY structure.
Clemson fans that travel to all home games and multiple away games are making a tremendous sacrifice of time and money to attend these games. It is a draining experience to travel 12 out of 13 weeks in the fall, driving near and far to catch a glimpse of Clemson football.
More importantly, I think fans that travel to road games are the most loyal and devoted fans that Clemson has under its wings. These are people that are going to the games regardless of Clemson’s success on the field, something that is a rare commodity in the “give me wins now” age of football. While these road warriors most certainly want to win as badly as any fan does, they are not fickle enough to throw in the towel of traveling to see the Tigers play in person just because of a loss here or there.
These fans are going to all of these road games in addition to going to Death Valley six or seven times a year, which makes their devotion even more impressive.
Fans that travel to road games have helped create this image that Clemson fans are some of the most loyal fans in college football. Our reputation and prestige in earning bowl games can be traced back to our fans ability to travel to games near and far.
These road warriors obviously spend a sizeable amount of their income to travel to see the Tigers play. While this money is not directly going into IPTAY, it is money that is being spent on the Tigers. In many cases, these fans could pay more to IPTAY if they did not go to road games, but they prefer to pay a smaller IPTAY donation and use a portion of their income on traveling to see the Tigers play.
It seems only fair that these fans get a point benefit from buying tickets to away games. This type of benefit is warranted for folks who travel simply because these fans are dedicated to Clemson University athletics, which should be at the core of any priority points system.
Distributing points for people attending away games could also encourage folks to go to road games, knowing that they will get additional IPTAY benefit from doing so. In this day when almost every Clemson game is on television, it is easy to stay at home and watch the Tigers play a road game on television. Additional incentives for fans, such as giving priority points, would go a long way in solidifying and possibly increasing the number of fans that travel with the Tigers.
And considering the push Dr. Phillips recently made to have Clemson fans purchase bowl tickets from Clemson instead of the Internet, tying priority points to ticket purchases through Clemson may help curb that problem as well. If the choice is to buy through Clemson and earn priority points or buy through Ticketmaster and have slightly better seats, maybe more fans will see the light and purchase through Clemson.
Sure, there are logistics that would have to be worked out, such as how many points you would get for the amount of tickets and the amount of road games that you go to. To ensure the fans that buy the tickets actually go to the games, you may have to ask that they pick up their purchased tickets at Will Call on game day to get priority points credit. You may even have to offer a “road game season ticket package” to all road games and, if purchased, would give priority points to the purchaser.
Make no mistake; it would take some discussion to make sure the details get worked out in a fair way to the majority of people. But, fundamentally, I see a value in rewarding people who take their money and show support for Clemson at the games. It is these people that have helped cement our reputation as the best traveling team in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
If you want to take it a step forward, offer additional priority points for fans that purchase season tickets in basketball or baseball, two sports that are always looking for more season ticket sales.
I understand that purchasing tickets to games does not put money into IPTAY’s coffers directly. Trying to find the right balance between that in regards to priority points would certainly be a challenge.
But an athletic department wants people to go to games. Not only is it a positive for the student athletes to have people cheering them on, the reputation and prestige of the athletic program in many ways is traced to the amount of people that travel near and far to see the Tigers play.
And it would be a fair system if those road warriors would get an extra perk in points for their devotion.