Friday, September 01, 2006

For "diehard" fans only!

What's the latest controversy on the UNC campus?

The ever-increasing tuition rates?
The overpriced textbooks?
The lack of parking?
The ongoing construction?

Nope. The latest controversy in the Southern Part of Heaven is the new online distribution system for basketball tickets. According to the (many) critics, this system will allow "casual" fans to easily gets tickets, while the "diehard" fans will have to settle for watching the games on TV. The system's advocates argue that it gives all students a fair chance to get tickets.

As someone who considers myself a "diehard" Tar Heel fan, I support the new system. Why? Keep reading.

Here's how the new system works: students go to www.tarheelblue.com and click through a series of screens in order to enter themselves into a lottery. If a student is selected to receive tickets, he will get an email instructing him to confirm his tickets. He can reserve up to two tickets. The tickets will then be sent to him in PDF format 48 hours before the game.

This system replaces the "old" bracelet system, which began in 1997. Under this system, students obtained numbered bracelets. Students then lined up outside the Dean Dome on designated Saturday mornings in order to pick up their tickets. The person who had the bracelet with the selected "magic number" was the lucky first person in line. The rest of the bracelet holders lined up in numerical order behind that person. If you weren't in line at 7:00 a.m., you forfeited your spot.

Before 1997, students camped out for tickets.

Here are some of the arguments presented by the critics against the new system, and my responses to them:

Changing the system destroys tradition.

Oh please. There are many traditions at Carolina, and the bracelet distribution system isn't one of them. As stated above, the bracelet system started in 1997 It went through several changes during its nine-year existence. For instance, when I was a freshman, I had to walk down to the Dean Dome in order to get my bracelet. The "magic number" was then printed in the DTH the day before ticket distribution.

The Carolina Athletic Association (CAA) figured out reasonably quickly that students were going down to the Dean Dome multiple times and obtaining multiple bracelets. I'll plead guilty to this one. I have a small wrist, so I could easily slide my bracelet off and get a new one. Students then waited for the DTH to print the magic number so they knew which bracelet they needed to wear to line check. The smart folks at the CAA then decided not to announce the magic number until after they conducted line check. This change put a halt to the bracelet hording.

At some point after I graduated, the CAA moved bracelet distribution to Kenan Stadium and started announcing the magic number in the Pit the Friday before ticket distribution. Since I'm quite sure students didn't become more honest after I graduated, I assume the CAA started swiping ONE Cards at bracelet distribution to assure each student obtained only one. I don't know this for certain, though.

And let's not forget that when I was an undergraduate, people were complaining that the bracelet system destroyed the camping tradition.

If you want tradition, we can go back to watching the games in Carmichael. The atmosphere would be a lot better. And since the stadium is much smaller than the Dean Dome, a lot less students could see the games. So maybe that's not the best solution now, is it?

I could list numerous other Carolina "traditions" that have been destroyed over the years as well. Had one of them stood the test of time, Michael Jordan would have never been a Tar Heel.

The bottom line: "tradition" is a ridiculous defense.

Changing the system allows "casual" fans to easily obtain tickets.

The thinking behind this argument is that only "diehard" fans will bother to get a bracelet and show up for line check Saturday morning. A few years ago, I might have agreed with this argument. When I was an undergraduate, I spent many a frosty Saturday morning standing outside the Dean Dome waiting for my tickets. But in January 2005, I returned to Carolina as a graduate student. Oh, how I wanted to get basketball tickets again. The only problem was that I had to be at work, in Raleigh, at 9:00 sharp Saturday mornings. According to the new system's critics, this fact threw me into the "casual" fan category. Yup, that's me: the casual fan.

To be fair, I had other ways of obtaining student tickets. In fact, I signed up to get "Ceiling Fan" (i.e. the last few rows of the upper level) tickets with other graduate students from my department last season. I went to a couple of games. No one else from my department did. And since I only had one ticket (the bracelet system allowed you to pick up two as long as you had two ONE cards with you), I couldn't invite anyone else to keep me company. I decided I would have more fun watching the games with my (non-student) friends on Franklin Street at Linda's.

Point being: EVERY student, whether or not they have the ability or desire to show up at the Dean Dome on Saturday mornings, pays the fees that allows students to have "free" tickets. Therefore, EVERY student should have an equal chance of getting tickets. If students really don't want to go to basketball games, they won't sign up for the lotteries. Similarly, if you're not sick, you won't go to Student Health. But if the need arises, it's there for you. Your student fees pay for it.

Furthermore, what is a "diehard" fan? Only those people who showed up for line check at the Dean Dome? The people who used to camp out for tickets probably don't think that's too diehard. To think that every student at UNC pays fees so that who you consider to be "diehard" fans can attend games is just snobbery.

Changing the system prevents groups of students from sitting together.

Well, that is a problem. As the system stands now, there is absolutely no way to guarantee that more than two friends can sit together. But I'm willing to bet the CAA can fix this problem. And if it doesn't happen this season, it will happen next season. It's really not a reason to scrap the system altogether.

The new system abolishes the Ceiling Fan system.

Despite my unfortunate experience as a Ceiling Fan (see above), many people liked the system. But since the Ceiling Fan system was designed to enable people who couldn't show up for line check to get tickets, the online system makes it unnecessary. Well, almost. Keeping the Ceiling Fan system might satisfy some students who want to sit in large groups. I'm sure others would complain that it prevented the "diehard" fans from having good seats.

Dook doesn't have this "stupid" system.

This argument ranks right up there with the "tradition" argument. I don't know why we care what Dook does for ticket distribution. Is it because Krzyzewskiville always makes the news before UNC-Dook games? Dook Athletics has been in the news for other reasons lately, but I don't think we want our lacrosse team accused of rape, our basketball players arrested for drunk driving, or our starting quarterback(s) suspended for plagiarism. I'm leaving out the last one because I don't want this blog to become a "pick on Dick Baddour-fest."

That's all, folks. Time to get over it and move on with our lives.

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