An Interesting Sports Economy

I witnessed an entire economy this past weekend that I didn't ever expect to see. The lifestyle of the ticket scalper lauded by some and hated by many, but what I came to find out was that the true profiteers to any sports event is actually a familiar face in the sports world. A hint, it's not the NCAA.

I have been going to the Big 12 (and previous Big 8) tournaments since I was 8 years old and this year was no exception. It has always been an annual pilgrimage for my dad and me, but occasionally we get graced with the presence of my brother, uncle, girlfriend, extended family, college friends or dad's college friends. For this year, my brother, my girlfriend, my dad, and I all experienced some of the best basketball that we have ever seen this past weekend.

Typically in years past, we would get scalped tickets and see the tourney each day on the cheap, but this year due to the tourney being held in the new Sprint Center and advent of StubHub and the like we played it safe and purchased tickets for the entire tourney from my uncle (a season ticket holder for Colorado, thus gets first dibs on tourney tickets). For the first two days on our walk to the building we observed the various ticket scalpers loaded with tickets. Curious, I asked for prices which varied from session to session but ranged from $80-150 per ticket. These people were hustling and running all over the place, clearly we were in their office.

Just like any good job, there seems to be a required uniform. While bankers wear suits and ties and mechanics have their blue collar shirts with their names on them, scalpers wardrobe consist of large coats, Timberland boots, and various clothes by Fubu, South Pole, or Roca Wear. Some may actually be wearing collegiate clothing, but unfortunately Morehead State, Miami U, and UCLA are not members of the Big 12. They all wore the same type of clothes no matter if they were tall, small, big boned, skinny, white, black, purple, blue, or yellow. Hint to the scalpers though, no one thinks you actually 'need tickets' when your sign is laminated and your counting your wad of cash on the side of the street.

Personally I could give a crap how scalpers make money. As a matter of fact, in years past I have been able to pay for my own tickets through just buying and selling tickets for the tourney, so I really don't deserve the right to complain. This year though I saw more scalpers with more tickets with more money on hand then I have ever seen before. With more money, I thought man these scalpers are really making some serious cash. One thing I noticed was that each day the eyes of the scalpers became more red and blood shot, and each seemed more and more exhausted. This must be from all of their hard work.

Reality set in on Saturday when my girlfriend's sister wanted to go out that night and revealed the 'bank' so to speak for all that scalped money. That location was the casino. That's right the casino where people go to bet on games, bet on players, bet on anything. Nearly all of the scalpers that I saw that day were in the casino losing there hard earned cash on craps, blackjack, and roulette. No wonder they were getting more and more tired each day that I saw them, they had to work harder and harder to get that money they originally made back and then some more. Sucks when the house wins most of the time. Next year my suggestion for these guys will be for them to invest the money more wisely. Perhaps property like chrome wheels, gold chains, and pimp cups would at least hold their value a little longer.

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