The incoming Carolina Athletic Association cabinet has made clear in recent days their fealty to the current basketball distribution scheme. While pledging to communicate more effectively the specifics of the ticket policy, the administration refuses to seriously consider alternatives to the current two-ticket, three-phase online distribution method.
Their stubbornness is fair in one sense: The new cabinet has inherited the distribution method that students voted into effect just last year. But the continued complaints that a changed system could fill more seats are inescapable. The villain in this saga, however, is not the current CAA administration. It is instead the collective result of several decisions grounded in safety and efficiency that shaped today’s ticket distribution scheme into a humdrum affair.
Before the online distribution began in 2006, I had my freshman year to try my luck at the bracelet distribution method. This system had a process that unfolded over several days.
Early in the week, we walked to Kenan Stadium to receive numbered bracelets; groups strategized to get bracelets at different times. At noon on Friday, the CAA announced in the Pit the magic number that would be first in line for the distribution that would take place — at 7 a.m. Saturday. If we were within a couple thousand of the number, or felt lucky, we toughed it out to the ticket office and checked in before 7 a.m. to receive a pair of tickets to the next three or four home games.
That sequence may sound involved – I know that I felt a sense of unity in seeing others wear the tattered bracelets all week, and I understood the gravity of giving up Saturday morning sleep for a chance at tickets. But it is the sort of scheme that dedicated fans are willing to submit to. Alumni still fondly recall stories of camping out for tickets in Carmichael Auditorium or outside the Dean Smith Center in the days before bracelets.
Time, however, has ravaged those old policies. The University grew cold to the notions of allowing students to camp out or line up outside the Dean Dome on Saturday mornings, raising concerns of equality of access and safety concerns, and citing added convenience afforded to ticketing staff and to students.
But in the end, making the ticketing process more convenient and inclusive leaves a bland aftertaste. Gone are perks like group seating and the Ceiling Fan program, which gave 500 students nosebleed seats to every home game. And without these special distributions, or the experience of “earning” a ticket by waiting, getting basketball tickets has come to feel like less than an earned reward, and students feel less inclined to take advantage of their chances to see the Tar Heels play.
There are programs like the Turn-It-Back system and the standby line that ought to help put students in open seats. As far as students are concerned, these post-distribution options trump the older systems’ sale of unclaimed tickets to the general public. Short of allowing students to buy and sell student tickets, though, allocative inefficiencies will remain in the way the CAA distributes tickets. The students running the CAA can’t do much about that.
Noah Brisbinis a columnist for the Daily Tar Heel. He is a second year law student from Salisbury. Contact him at email@example.com.