Mike Houston

Coach Mike Houston signals toward the field during the ECU at USF football game on Sept. 26.

With the announcement that some fans would be permitted at East Carolina University football games, many were left wondering how it would be determined which fans would be allowed in. Then, ECU Athletics made the decision to have it be decided by a random lottery.

The idea behind deciding things this way is a solid one, as doing things randomly allows for the most fair process possible. However, I believe they are overlooking all of the seniors who won’t get to enjoy Pirate football as a student after this season.

Those students who will graduate this year will no longer be able to get student tickets, which is a huge deal. Considering the tremendous amount of debt college students today accrue, as well as other living expenses, I find it unlikely that many of them will be able to pay for a ticket to a game any time soon after graduation.

I think Athletics should take this into account. While it seems a little ridiculous to guarantee that every senior gets a ticket this year, I think it would be reasonable to guarantee that a certain number of tickets per game are given to seniors.

Doing things this way would make sure that a large portion of the senior class still gets to attend the football games while reserving plenty of space for the rest of the students. It maintains an element of fairness while also giving the university the opportunity to show support for the seniors, many of which sometimes feel abandoned by an institution with its eyes set on the future in trying times.

My personal situation is a little different. As a longtime member of the Marching Pirates, I have attended every single home game for the last three seasons, plus a few away games too. It was an emotional moment, to say the least, when opening kickoff happened and I was at my house, about a mile up the road from Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, still able to hear the sounds of the stadium but unable to root my team on from the stands.

While I’ll be in school for another year, many of my fellow senior Marching Pirates will never have another opportunity to attend an ECU game as a student if they don’t get picked in the lottery and this after having been guaranteed to get into every game before this year.

Every other graduating class currently in school has next year or beyond to look forward to and games which will hopefully allow full attendance. But for seniors, with Pirate football being such an important part of the culture in Greenville, North Carolina a major part of the college experience has been effectively wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a year where graduation ceremonies are virtual, traditions have been postponed and students have become quickly overwhelmed by taking online classes in an eight week timeframe, Pirate football is one of the few things left that is attempting to bring the ECU community together. In light of all the major events and memorable moments that the current senior class has been robbed of, reserving seats for seniors at the home football games would allow many students to still create some memories in their last year of college.

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