Basketball ticket policy could prove chaotic

by Stacey Oparnica

File Photo
File Photo

There are few greater ways to prove the magnitude of an San Diego State student’s spirit than by choosing to sleep outside of Viejas Arena for Aztec basketball games.

This is precisely what hundreds of SDSU’s most devoted fans did last semester in order to gain entry to men’s basketball games, most notably the infamous rivalry game against BYU. Photos from the campout reveal a mass array of lawn chairs, sleeping bags, fold-out tables, board games and, of course, a line of shivering but good-spirited fans snaking around the arena. Because of the impressive number of students determined to get their hands on tickets, many felt compelled to skip work or class altogether in order to hold places in line.

When I told my shocked family about the students who camped out for three days, I could only shrug my shoulders and say, “That’s SDSU.” It seems crazy to some people that students would voluntarily submit themselves to sleeping on cement and skipping work or class for a chance to demonstrate college pride; and to some extent, it probably is.

However, the dedication and enthusiasm fueling such a decision is the very emblem of our university. It’s what makes us stand out.

Nevertheless, there was one group that wasn’t impressed: the SDSU Department of Athletics. Recent changes to the distribution policy for men’s basketball tickets mark the end of this short-lived tradition.

Effective immediately, students will no longer be able to camp out for tickets. Instead, they will have to wait until 6 a.m. the day of sale to form a line outside Viejas Arena, with ticket distribution beginning at 7:30 a.m. “I think that is a good idea because once people start lining up, students feel obligated to follow, and if the line can’t start (until) the morning of, it will save students the trouble of missing more classes,” sociology junior Shauna Goodman said.

While prohibiting campouts may lessen the pressure to miss class or work, I have to wonder if this new ban has the potential to create unintended complications. If no one will be allowed to form an actual line before 6 a.m., should we expect to see a mob of students anxiously lingering around the arena, ready to charge once the clock strikes six?

“I think there might be an occasion where that happens … but we hope that is not the case,” Steve Schnall, Associate Athletic Director of SDSU’s Department of Athletics, said. “If there is an issue, campus security is aware of what the policy is, and they will assist us in making sure the students adhere to the policy the best they can.”

While the presence of security will hopefully minimize any possible rowdiness, I can’t help but question how a hoard of excitable students rushing to be first in line seems any less chaotic or dangerous than a student campout.

The ban isn’t going to be the only change, either. A strict one ticket per student policy will also be implemented, ultimately eliminating free guest tickets this semester.

While I expect this alteration to frustrate a significant number of students, I anticipate this amendment will address and hopefully resolve the issue of ticket scalping, which proved to be a tremendous setback last semester. The SDSU Department of Athletics hopes by eliminating free guest tickets, more SDSU students will have the opportunity to attend basketball games.

“That’s what a student section should be for,” Schnall said.

After all, with 30,000 students and only 3,000 student tickets available, it doesn’t make sense for anyone but SDSU students to have priority for admission. With such high demand, there has even been talk of implementing a lottery system, in which students would randomly be selected to receive tickets.

My main concern with this, as well as with the campout ban, is that such alterations make it nearly impossible to separate the true fans from those who simply couldn’t find anything better to do, or were merely lucky enough to win tickets in a raffle.

As of right now, the SDSU Department of Athletics is focusing all its attention on patching up last year’s distribution snags and hopefully establishing a more functional system. While the result of these changes has yet to be revealed, I sincerely hope the enthusiasm and fervor for our basketball team, which was best displayed by those willing to camp out for tickets, will not be compromised.