So the Wisconsin State Journal's sports editors have finally caught onto the fact that something is amiss with Wisconsin's student ticket policies. This dawning realization led to this article, with its implied criticism of students who buy football season tickets and then immediately turn around and scalp them. My thoughts on that extremely common phenomenon are as follows.
First, there's the general and irrefutable truth that every year, at least some students are going to try to resell their student tickets. They're in college, they need money, standing for three hours in tiring, sobering up in the middle of the day isn't pleasant, all the games are on TV anyway, Wisconsin v. Wofford isn't particularly compelling, etc. So I don't begrudge kids' efforts to resell tickets and make some money. Indeed, I've bought scalped student tickets on several different occasions myself. (I do, however, begrudge the idiot student in the article who insisted that he isn't being "selfish" by buying tickets and then immediately scalping them. Dude, you're doing this to make money for yourself, and in doing so, making some other fan (like the incoming freshman mentioned in the article), pay more for tickets. That's selfish. Get a dictionary. And it's okay-- capitalism is based on selfishness. Just embrace it, you coward.)
Anyway, given that fact, the question is what to do about it. It seems to me, that the university currently has policies that tacitly encourage scalping, and I'm talking about the way that they allocate tickets and how they admit "students" to Camp Randall. In regard to allocation, until this past month, the university had a pure lottery for tickets. This year, they changed the policy to a first come, first served sale, but held the sale online at 8 am on a weekday-- not the most convenient time for students who have summer jobs. (The system didn't work particularly well as the University apparently cheaped out with their contract with Ticketmaster, but that's another matter.) In any event, neither method of allocation works that well. If you want to discourage scalping, you need to make getting tickets kind of a pain in the ass-- making people who want them do something a bit difficult, like wait in line for a long time. Certainly, making people sit in front of their computers for an hour is more difficult then just having them submit their names to a lottery, but they're still making it far too easy for the commercially-minded to buy tickets.
Second, I have never understood how anyone can walk up to the student gates, submit a voucher, get a ticket and waddle into the student section without any proof that that person is actually a student. Hell, an eighty-three-year-old who doesn't speak English can use a "student" voucher. It's ridiculous. Because of this complete lack of verification that the users of student vouchers are in fact students, the resale market for scalped student tickets is unlimited. If the UW did what other schools do without too much hassle, that is, simply ask for student IDs along with a voucher, the market for scalped vouchers would be halved, at least. Apparently spending three seconds to glance at a student ID is too much to ask of the ticket takers though. Sigh.
I'll make it plain-- in combination with the documented neutering of the "Grateful Red"-- it's clear that whoever runs UW's student ticket program for the major sports is doing a piss-poor job. Folks, this is a down economy. People are scrambling for work, the state (like most states) has serious budget problems, the university is looking to save money-- how about firing whatever half-assed, uncreative, and overpaid simpleton is handling student ticket policies? I'm guessing you could hire some young turk with fresh ideas to replace that person at 60% of the cost. Maybe a recent graduate of UW's MBA program? Hell, they could have a competition for that job among second year MBA students, with applicants needing to submit proposals to revamp the system. But that would be far too fun and unorthodox for the athletic department under Barry's reign.