New ticket policy to improve student attendance at games

Looking around Charles Koch Arena during a home men’s basketball game last year, you might have noticed the nearly half-empty student section.

With reports of student tickets selling out, the question of, “Where is everybody?” arose.

Where are the students who picked up tickets? Better yet, is anyone who wanted a ticket, but couldn’t get one because they were sold out, angry upon seeing the surprisingly low student turnout?

The answer is yes.

I was angry, and that anger has kept me from attending a men’s basketball game for the last three years until now.

Tickets will now be handed out one at a time, and I am hopeful this change will mean I can go to a game before I graduate at the end of the semester.

During my freshman year at WSU, I attended five games over the course of the season. I loved the suspense of watching the shot clock tick while fans chanted with the countdown. I enjoyed cheering along with my peers in Shocker Nation, holding up the — subtly sexual — Shocker hand-symbol in celebration of a three-pointer. I cherished the camaraderie, pride and school spirit I so sorely missed from my high school days.

When the Shockers made it to the Final Four at the end of my freshman year, I was ecstatic, elated, even. I never imagined I’d be a part of such a historic moment. Little did I know, with the surge of admiration for the Shockers, came the demise of my Shocker pride.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have pride for my school, but I can’t express it like I used to because I can’t get a ticket to a game, and the empty student section tells me that I’m not the only one.

Time after time, the tickets were sold out, and I began to slowly lose hope of ever seeing the Shockers play again. I had no will power to get up at 5 a.m. and camp out in front of Koch Arena for hours in the cold only to reach the box office and be told, “Too bad. All out.”

I continued to watch the games on TV and was astonished the first time I saw (by my definition) the empty student section.

The policy of handing out two or three tickets per pick-up was causing the low student turnout. When students went to pick up tickets, they were going for the high-profile games, not the games against Bradley or Southern Illinois where we were sure to win. People came for the tickets to the nail-biters, but when offered all three tickets, they didn’t turn down the extras because they figured, ‘Why not? I’m already here.’

I’ve wanted a ticket for three years. And I can assure you, I’d go if I had one.

The old policy was convenient because it saved students trips to pick-up tickets. But as the popularity of the Shockers grew and the student section dwindled, ticket sales personnel realized there was a problem.

This problem didn’t sit well with men’s basketball head coach Gregg Marshall, who attached notes to the seats of the student section pleading for students to attend games. It also didn’t sit well with students watching from home who wished they were there cheering on their team in person.

In response to the growing concern, the ticket policy changed.

I’ll be at the ticket pick-up Monday — not at 5 a.m. — but early enough to ensure I can scream “Shocker Three” at the top of my lungs, while holding up a mildly offensive Shocker hand-sign as my ear drums burst from the sound of the buzzer and screaming fans one last time.

The Shocker student section was, at one time, considered the loudest, most distracting student section in the Missouri Valley Conference. It reached the point where visiting teams dreaded WSU home games because the student section’s reputation caused the opposing team to lose from distraction.

Shockers, restore that reputation, and fill up our empty student section with Shocker pride once again.