The Big Ticket is marketed as a convenient, all-inclusive ticket to UT home sporting events. Students can use it as an easy access pass to home games without having to pay each time. What could go wrong?
If we consider recent football games, a lot. From intense stampedes to heat exhaustion, these past few Saturdays have highlighted an obvious issue — by overselling Big Tickets, Texas Athletics is undervaluing student safety.
Biochemistry sophomore Megan Thomas witnessed the chaos at the LSU game. Thomas, who arrived 30 minutes after students rushed the entrance, claims even though she avoided the initial stampede, she was not spared from the mayhem happening inside the stadium.
“It reminded me of a music festival crowd because everyone was pushing and people were yelling … It was just chaotic,” Thomas said. “(UT) knew they weren’t going to have enough seats and knew it was going to be a lot of people … yet they still oversold.”
According to John Bianco, the associate communications director of intercollegiate athletics, 18,000 Big Tickets have been sold for the 2019-2020 school year even though only 13,000 seats are allocated for the student section. Not only does overselling cause cramping in the stands, but it also overwhelms security to the point that they cannot efficiently check IDs. When there are too many people to process, safety is jeopardized.
“The only security I saw was at the point of letting us into the stands,” Thomas said. “I don’t think they even checked my ID.”
Although the LSU game is an extreme example, getting past DKR security is a common occurrence. One source, who wishes to stay anonymous, knows firsthand how easy it is to bypass security. The student claimed they had lost their physical copy of their ID, and since UT was no longer taking printed tickets due to the game being oversold, the only way for them to get into the game was if they transferred their Big Ticket to someone else’s ID and used it as their own.
“It’s really easy to sneak in because they don’t even look at the ticket,” the student said. “They’re just watching to see if the light turns green. I wasn’t even worried like this (person) didn’t even look anything like me … and it worked.”
If it worked for one student, it could work for everyone. As long as the light turns green, anyone, student or not, could walk into the highly populated and vulnerable DKR. With up to 18,000 Big Ticket holders ready to be scanned each game, security does not have the time to properly check IDs. Unfortunately, even if UT security took more time to check every ID, there would still be issues with student safety due to the overselling of tickets.
To prevent what happened at the LSU game from reoccurring, Texas Athletics announced a new student entry process for the OSU game — the key point being that only one gate would be open for Big Ticket holders. With temperatures close to 100 degrees, students were forced to stand in a single file line for hours. Even after kickoff, students were still waiting to be let into the stadium.
There is a serious problem with the overselling of Big Tickets when it puts students in jeopardy of overheating and overcrowding. Even with the new precautions, there were still too many Big Ticket holders present at one time. UT’s promise of providing a secure game day experience is broken when revenue becomes more important than the safety and well-being of students.
If UT does not immediately scale back Big Ticket sales, the University will become another institution that claims to have everyone’s best interests at heart, but is really only interested in the money in their pocket.
Lopez is a rhetoric and writing sophomore from Nederland, Texas.