Opinion: Pass the buck
Sell your sports pass if you must, but first understand what you're doing
Published: Sunday, August 25, 2013
Updated: Monday, August 26, 2013 00:08
I paid $225 for my 2013 football-only sports pass. That buys me the opportunity to stand alongside the largest student section in the nation (by proportion of total stadium capacity) for eight home games.
I’m an English major, but even I can do that math: I’m robbing from someone.
Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t pity the administration’s wallet, swollen as it is by Manziel’s exploits and the wholesale victory that was conference realignment. (We’ll pretend for a moment I’m not disgusted by the millions of dollars Manziel generated for this town, team and University, of which he won’t see a dime. That’s a story for another time. And trust me — that time will come.)
The athletic department doesn’t hurt for dollars.
And selling your sports pass doesn’t automatically make you a chump. There are legitimate reasons for doing so. Maybe you bought the pass but, as it happens, you’re scheduled to work Saturdays and you want to make up the cost. So you sell it to another student who missed out on the mad rush for the limited sports passes.
We could sit and talk and come up with plenty of scenarios like that one.
But if your sports pass is one of the many on StubHub or similar sites, listed as high as $999,999 for the Alabama game (okay, that ticket isn’t a sports pass, but there really is a ticket listed that high), you’re flirting with chump status.
I can’t blame you for selling your pass. I feel a little old-fashioned that I put value in the Aggie honor code, but I’m not going to pull that card out of the deck. I’m not going to tell you that you’re a bad Aggie for making a buck. Plenty of people I love do this every season. But you should at least be aware of what it means when you reserve a pass and then distribute it elsewhere.
The argument in favor of a “free market on sports passes” goes like this, and it’s a (mostly) valid one: If someone is willing to purchase my tickets for a price higher than I value the game attendance experience, I should be able to sell it.
Sure, I can buy that — if the market wasn’t artificially created at someone else’s expense.
It’s not the University you should feel bad about stealing from. It’s your dad, your aunt, your professor, your local business owner — any and all former students who purchase season tickets.
The student section is the best thing about Kyle Field, and likely the best thing about this town. The thrum of the towels, the feeling in your throat after you’ve spent your voice on the opening defensive series (and it won’t stop you from whisper-screaming at every bogus pass interference flag) — these things make Kyle Field special.
Fortunately for us, the former students know that. They stood where we stood. They called the metal seats “wood” in the same inexplicable manner. So our 30,000-strong student section trucks on and the former students pick up the tab. Season ticket holders subsidize sports passes. And a subsidized system is not a free market.
I’m always told Texans and Aggies pride themselves on shying away from “handouts,” of recoiling from the idea of relying on someone else’s dollar. When I see student sports passes on StubHub for the Alabama game for more than $800, I see none of that conservative spirit.
If you buy your sports pass with the sole intent of selling it at more than 500 percent what you paid, take some time to think about what that means.
If you sell your pass to the highest bidder, including non-students, whose side are you on? Why are students — who missed the boat on renewing their pass because of the speed with which the allotment sold out — relegated to their couches while Alabama crimson, Rice blue and Auburn orange dots the student section?
I sat in the press box all last season, but I also had a sports pass. If someone needed my pass, I let him or her use it. Some weeks it went to waste. I don’t know if that’s better or worse than selling the pass, but I can’t help but feel that we as students should exercise more caution in what we do with our passes.
If you don’t plan to attend games, don’t purchase the right away from someone else. But if you insist on selling your pass, find a student to buy it. Keep the maroon parts of Kyle Field maroon. Let Alabama fans fight over the visitors’ allotment.
Seeing Kevin Sumlin roam the sidelines, placing bets as to how high the lead will have to grow before Manziel loses his helmet and dons a visor — these are things we might never see again.
People are willing to pay for that right, but are you willing to give it up?