Defending the Indefensible

CRDaily

Three games into this year’s college basketball season, the early verdict is in: The new CAA ticket policy so far is a disaster. Today, the Daily Tar Heel published attendance figures for the first three games of the past two seasons. The statistics show a massive drop-off in student attendance of games.

2009 Season

vs. Florida International – 53% of student tickets used.
vs. N.C. Central – 47% of student tickets used.
vs. Valparaiso – 24% of student tickets used.

2008 Season

vs. Pennsylvania – 65% of student tickets used.
vs. Kentucky – 85% of student tickets used.
vs. UNC-Asheville – 40% of student tickets used.

CAA director John Russell says that students are simply not taking advantage of other ways to get tickets. For example, he points to the fact that although 400 tickets were returned for redistribution for last Sunday’s game, only 20 were claimed. However, returned tickets are only distributed at 5:15 PM the day before a game. But for most heavily scheduled college students, going to a game is something that requires a bit of planning in advance. Not knowing whether you are going to get a ticket until the night before is a major inconvenience when planning schoolwork and other activities. It’s a simple truth that making it harder for students to get tickets is going to decrease attendance.

Russell continues to justify the new policy by arguing that students are now twice as likely to receive a basketball ticket. This is true, but they are also far less likely to find friends with tickets in the same phase, and are therefore less likely to use their ticket. CAA Associate Director Clint Gwaltney argues that the previous system of giving two tickets to each student was not working because tickets were still being unused, claiming that only 85% of student tickets were used for last year’s game against Kentucky and something had to be changed.

Russell argues that students can get tickets if they really want them. This is true. This was true last year too. But the issue is not whether you can get a ticket if you try hard enough, it’s whether it’s worth the trouble. And when it becomes more and more trouble, more and more students will decide that it’s not worth it.

The solution to this is not to make it harder for students to go to games. Common sense dictates that if people aren’t doing a certain thing, then making it harder for them to do that thing will not make them more likely to do it. You simply do not promote attending basketball games by making it harder to do.

Basketball Ticket Follies

CRDaily

Today, Carolina Review will bring you coverage of an issue which directly affects your life: Basketball tickets.

As you probably already know, the Carolina Athletics Association decided to change the distribution policy for men’s basketball tickets. Before, there were 3,000 winners in the student lottery and each student received two tickets to games. Now, each student will receive a single ticket, with 6,000 students receiving tickets.

The CAA claims this is necessary because too many student tickets were going unused. Now, I attended almost every home game last year, and I did not see any empty student seats. The CAA also tried to justify the new policy by saying that if two students had plans to go to a game together, and both of them won tickets, then two tickets would end up being unused. The statistical improbability of this rare occurrence notwithstanding, in my experience, students with tickets they did not plan to use almost always gave them to someone else.

Now, the most likely outcome of this new policy is that many students will win tickets, but none of their friends will win tickets in the same phase. This will mean that many of these students will not attend, probably leading to more unused tickets than before.

The CAA has pointed to the Duke ticket policy and football ticket policies as models. However, the football stadium seats 12,000 students, meaning that almost all students who want to go to the game are able to go. Most of the seats at the Duke game are reserved for seniors, so it is far more likely that people will know at least a few people from their graduating class.

However, the burden of the new policy will fall harder on some students than on others. Here’s a quick run-down of the students who will be shafted the most by the new policy:

Graduate Students

As geography graduate student Benjamin Heumann pointed out in a letter to the editor to the Daily Tar Heel, graduate students have far smaller social circles than undergraduates who make friends from numerous clubs and other events. Therefore, graduate students are even less likely than undergraduates to receive tickets to the same game and phase as their friends.

Dating Couples

Receiving two tickets guaranteed that couples would be able to go together. Now, they have to hope to hit the statistical bullseye, or hope to bum a ticket off a friend who isn’t using it.

Introverts

Not everyone at UNC has 800 friends. Some people only have small groups of close friends, thereby making it far less likely that at least two people from their group will win tickets. With each ticket winner getting two tickets, they were guaranteed at least one friend to go with.

People without “black market” connections

We all know the type, the person who runs a small distribution ring of basketball tickets. He knows hundreds of people, so many people give him their unused tickets and he redistributes them. Not everyone knows one of these people, and their only chance of getting a ticket is to win one. Now, their only chance of going with a friend (and for this type of person, going with a friend is the only way they will go) is for their friend to also win a ticket.

In summary, this is my third year at the university. I’ve seen priority registration, weekday registration, a $12 child care fee levied on 27,000 students to benefit 34 people, a session of student congress, and a ban on smoking with 100 feet of a building, and this new ticket policy is quite possibly the most ridiculous and most pathetically publicly justified action I have seen from any administrative body at this university.

Sign-ups for the first six games of the season end on Saturday. The CAA should move quickly to reverse this poor decision and re-institute the old policy of giving lottery winners two tickets, before the computer even picks the winners of the current lottery.