Who Needs Two?

The hazards of buying tickets on the street.

By Luke Robinson

Ticket scalping outside of college football stadiums is an American institution. It’s the Wall Street trading pit right there on the sidewalk. Ticket–selling sites may have put a large dent in the scalping industry, but there will always be a place for random dudes who–for reasons completely unknown– have more tickets for sale than an IMAX box office.

The beauty of scalping is that it is usually an all–cash transaction. No cards to swipe or rewards points to earn; just you and your bargaining power against a total stranger and his leverage.

For all of its legal shadiness, I have always found these sidewalk exchanges to be honest and fruitful. I once famously paid a paltry $25 for two tickets to a Final Four in the early 1990’s, for example. Horror stories of counterfeit tickets being procured (and thus hundreds of dollars lost) were all just urban legends to me.

However, this year outside of Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina, my friends and I found ourselves the victims of a true hornswoggling. We were duped. Deceived. Bamboozled, I tells ya! For all of us paid a handsome sum of American currency for tickets that were so fake they had to be printed at a plastic surgeon’s office.

Imagine our collective disappointment when we were handed our tickets back from the gate attendant and she could only unsympathetically say, “Baby, I am sorry but…. These won’t getcha in.”

Before you think we are all gullible fools, please note whoever did produce these bogus credentials did a bang–up job. It wasn’t like the tickets were printed in crayon on construction paper and had “Alabammer College v. South Carolina and Dem” written across the top. Nothing short an official watermark could have tipped off even a well–seasoned ticket–taker. We were just completely had.

Luckily for our quartet, we were able to buy three very real tickets at the last moment (one of us was able to sneak beyond the gate during the counterfeit fiasco… Shhhh… it’s a secret!) and eventually get into the stadium. Ironically, the second set of scalped seats was much, much cheaper than the first. Of course, Alabama went on to win the game handily and a good time was had by all.

However, I am left to wonder: Is there anything sacred left in football anymore? At every level the game has sold its soul for advertising dollars, disingenuous coaches have made loyalty a four-letter word, the transfer portal has redefined commitment and gimmicky, neon uniforms have replaced time honored traditional garb. Honesty in the scalping community was all we had left!

Now, thanks to this one phony (whose morals were so crooked they should be treated for Peyronie’s Disease), I will no longer be able to trust the random dude in the street holding up a set of tickets that look like an antique silk fan. I am going to need to see a notarized document and three forms of ID before I can buy my way into a game next time!

But you know…. now that I think about it…We probably should have been a bit suspicious from the beginning. This guy had more tickets for sale (4) than he did teeth (3) and he was probably only about 40 years old. Also, I am pretty sure he had an ankle monitor on.

Regardless, let our woes be a lesson to you all: If you plan to buy tickets in the street, understand you may get run over!

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