Back our blue, if you’re lucky: Lottery system treats loyal fans unfairly

By Makayla Franks ’18

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As anyone who talks to me for longer than three minutes knows, I love hockey. Like, to the same degree that I love pumpkin spice and defying gender roles. That is to say—a whole lot. And knowing that men’s hockey—or “man hockey” as the Commons posters proudly proclaim—here at Hamilton did well enough not only to secure the number one spot in the ’CAC, but also to host the rest of these games leading up to the championship game is something of a novelty. The thrill of being able to see these games unfold is probably the only thing that I’m looking forward to in this sluggish hell that is these two weeks before spring break. I viewed this upcoming weekend as a time for cathartic stress relief and a time to be proud of the athletic achievements of the College.

Imagine my unwelcome shock, then, upon seeing the email that went out to the student body about tickets for the game. The College has instituted a lottery system for students hoping to attend the game. It’s disheartening that those who want to see the game have to enter a lottery for tickets, with no guarantee of getting them even if you’ve been a diehard supporter of the team. Having everyone compete for space in a “Hunger Games” lottery system is definitely not the way to go about this. Also, the lottery favors non-students, as faculty and staff who enter in that lottery have two possible ways to get tickets—either in the lottery or as a guest—which diminishes the chances of students.

Why a lottery? Why are we weeding out possible viewers by leaving the system of attaining tickets up to luck? I understand the need to take into account the amount of people coming to see the game, parents and students alike, but there’s got to be a better way to go about this. While it may not be possible to accommodate every student hoping to go to the game, a lottery is far from the best way to handle this situation.

Why not have a first-come, first-serve basis for students from Hamilton? Cap the available tickets at a certain amount and create a waitlist with a limited number of tickets available on game day. That way, loyal fans are able to take matters into their own hands. In theory, a system like this would reward those who most want to go to the game because those students would have to show up early in order to ensure they can obtain tickets. In the lottery system, all it takes is a few clicks and your name is entered. The computer doesn’t care if you’ve been to every game or can recite the player’s names and numbers from memory; you simply have to be able to punch buttons and the odds of attendance between the most casual fans and the die-hards (like myself) become the same. In most cases, I’m all for an even playing field, but here, a little inequality might not be the worst thing. 

I came up with this plan in less than 30 minutes, as I stared in shock at the email. Of course I registered the information right away, but I couldn’t help but think that perhaps this plan lacked thought on the administration’s part. The problem here is both what I’ve laid out above and also the fact that it takes away the dedication that’s usually required in attaining these kind of tickets. Not to be the person who tries to pit fans against each other, but there’s a difference in how this game is being handled and how tickets for other events are found. That’s not to mention the added unfairness of students’ not being able to bring guests, while faculty can.

People wait in line for hours for tickets to concerts, speeches, phones, video games, Apple Care and the chance to meet people who they look up to. By no means am I saying that undergraduate hockey at a Division III school equates to getting your cat-chewed charger replaced only an hour before your train leaves to get back to campus after break (or maybe it does, I’m not one to judge), but there is something to be said for the people who are willing to put themselves out there. Risk equaling reward and all that. 

What I am saying is that there is something to be said for those who replied faster and right away—it implies that the event matters more to them than those who waited on entering the lottery. Those who care about and passionately want to go to this event shouldn’t have to wait to hear back from a lottery system to know whether or not they were accepted. Sharing school spirit shouldn’t be up to a lottery.

The College has arranged for a “viewing party” for those who either miss out on the lottery or would rather watch the game in a calmer atmosphere than the rowdy Sage Rink. This is a great option for some, but, once again, it does not address the unfairness of the possibility that loyal fans will miss out on viewing the game firsthand. Having watched the games in person for the entire season, it feels like the College is throwing loyal fans a pretty brittle bone in offering this “viewing party” as a consolation option. Perhaps this is the most fairest procedure possible for a lottery system, but it doesn’t address the fact that some fans have a vested interest in watching the game live and in person, rather than on a live stream removed from the action. Keep the viewing party, but get rid of the lottery.

With all the discord going on in the world, this should be a fun opportunity for those who would like to use sports as an escape. Can’t we all just take a moment to sit in a cold rink with sporadic heating, on seats that are too small, screaming at the top of our lungs as men crash into each other (but not too hard since that’s against NCAA rules and will result in ejection from the game—but I digress), fighting over a six-ounce disk of rubber for the glory of Canada (and the United States too, I guess)? Doesn’t that sound like a great time?

And if it doesn’t sound like a great time to you, then please, don’t enter the lottery! Because there are those of us who just want to go and support the boys in blue, and there’s nothing worse than having an opportunity taken by someone who isn’t fully committed to the idea. Even the quarterfinals were pretty much standing room only—and those were quarterfinals. We’re staring semifinals in the face, with the championship beyond that, and to expect less of a turnout is incredibly naïve.

Regardless of whether or not the administration even chooses to take into account the opinion of an undergraduate student who is really committed to hockey, it feels better to have gotten these thoughts out there. Perhaps in future years, if our team continues to enjoy this much success, and the problem of limited tickets arises once again, we can entertain the notion of a first-come, first-serve system. After all, if the goal of college is to prepare you for the real world, then why not have our events handled in the same manner?

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