Gameday ticket penalties are counterproductive

Photo credit: Joshua Kim

The last several years have been good seasons for Baylor football. We’ve all heard stories of seasons where the games were horrendously under attended and our football team barely seemed to know which way to throw the ball, but now our team wins often, and our on-campus stadium provides a picturesque setting for the perfect Instagram post, so students turn out in droves.

Regardless of the fact that we flock to the stadium decked out in our green and gold (fewer goldouts, please) the penalties Baylor implements for students who don’t use their reserved tickets seem to be counterproductive.

Baylor’s current policy is “intended to encourage active participation and responsibility for attending home football games,” according to the “Gameday for Students” website. To do so, Baylor penalizes students who reserve tickets and do not attend by placing holds on their ability to reserve tickets for future football games. For example, when a student can’t use their reserved ticket, if they don’t return the ticket by the Thursday prior to the Saturday football game, that student will be placed under 24-hour restriction for the next football game. This means they will be required to wait 24 hours after all other students have claimed their tickets to reserve their own. If you’ve attempted Baylor’s online ticket reservation process recently, this would generally mean that said student would not be able to reserve a ticket at all.

In addition to this policy, students who get caught attempting to sell their tickets will be restricted from reserving tickets for the rest of the season, and students who give away their tickets will be unable to reserve tickets for two subsequent home games. The policy also notes that, “Students who do not attend a game due to inclement weather conditions are still subject to restrictions for the following home game.”

In theory, these rules make a sort of general sense. Presumably, since ticket fees are rolled into student tuition instead of being paid for out-of-pocket, Baylor is attempting to incentivize students into actually attending the games, but this mindset seems stuck in the era where football was neither popular nor well-attended. Yes, students should be held accountable for the tickets they receive, and students absolutely should not be allowed to sell tickets we have already paid for in our tuition (Entrepreneurial, yes. Ethical, no.), but ticket policies seem to have become so strict that they actually limit the number of students able to attend, contrary to Baylor’s claim that the policies are in place to “ensure as many students as possible have the opportunity to attend home games at McLane Stadium.”

Students should be allowed to return tickets until the day of or the evening before the game (depending on whether it is an evening or afternoon game). According to Baylor’s “Gameday for Students” website,“All returned tickets will be distributed from McLane Stadium Box Office three hours in advance of kick-off.” Returned tickets are distributed the day of the game. Why, then, can students only return tickets without penalty until two days before the game? It seems as though the online ticket system should award students a little more leeway here since there is no actual exchange of paper tickets to delay the process. As it stands, the return policy locks students into a decision two days before the game. Students who get sick on Friday or have an emergency arise that prevents them from attending a Saturday game just have to accept the penalties, a practice that ultimately limits the number of students able to attend a game. Allowing students to return tickets even for 24 hours more would enable the more tickets to be redistributed legally, through Baylor’s system.

As previously stated, students attempting to sell the tickets we have all already paid for through our tuition deserve to be punished (again, we applaud your ingenuity, but we do attend a Christian university). That aside, Baylor should allow students to transfer tickets among the student body without penalty. While not ideal, transferring tickets allows students who have a sudden change in plans (perhaps on a Friday, when they can no longer return their tickets) to give someone else a chance to attend the game. Baylor’s policy specifies that transferring tickets both to “another student or non-student” are looked at as the same issue and are penalized the same way, but this punishment should be limited simply to transferring tickets to students outside of the Baylor population. After all, transferring tickets within the student body still fills the stands with Bears and, ultimately, can make use of tickets that would have gone to waste otherwise.

Baylor: We like to attend the football games. We like to fill the stands and hear our cheers amplified across the stadium. We like to see our team win, but we shouldn’t be punished for having plans arise that do not concern football. The “Gameday for Students” website states, “The online student ticket process will ensure the reservation, return, and gameday use of tickets is a great experience from beginning to end so Baylor students can take part in cheering on their Bears as they begin the 2016 season.” This is a good goal. Help us expand our options for returning and redistributing tickets across the student body so that it can begin to be true.