‘Nova Nation braves campground

Jamie Kapalko

I have gone camping exactly once in my life. I spent three days braving the wilderness, becoming one with nature, seeking refuge in the campground’s lobby whenever possible to use the computer, holding my cell phone at every imaginable angle in hopes that the Cingular gods would mercifully grant me service and relishing our single trip to Wal-Mart, a fresh breath of civilization in an otherwise stiflingly nature-filled weekend.

I took baths in bug spray but was still assailed by swarms of blood-thirsty mosquitoes. I wrapped myself in a cocoon of blankets each chilly night in vain, shivering until I could thaw myself out in the morning. The first day, I was so hopeless at assembling the tent that I was transferred to the honorable position of “instructions holder.” My friend’s seven-year-old sister assumed my duties.

I’m not a wimp – I had a lot of fun. But I’d rather sleep on my fluffy pillow in my bed than on a half-deflated air mattress with a tree root jabbing me in the back. I’d prefer eating off a plate at a restaurant than off a stick in front of a fire (with the exception of S’moresr). The great outdoors? Putting myself at the mercy of the elements? Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll pass. Most of the time.

Camping out for basketball tickets is not the same thing as camping exclusively for fun, but the gist of it is similar. It would involve living temporarily in cramped quarters surrounded by strangers, sleeping somewhere cold and uncomfortable and separated from the usual amenities of everyday life. It would be even more absurd than regular camping, because we’d be camping about 10 feet away from the cozy beds in our warm and inviting dorm rooms (wow, never thought I’d say that).

This absurdity is precisely what sways me in favor of a ticket policy involving camping. It encapsulates exactly what being a college basketball fan is all about – wholehearted, exuberant enthusiasm. It isn’t about what makes sense. It’s about expressing our devotion to and pride in our Wildcats. I won’t get excited about camping for its sake, but I will for a ticket to the game. What does this say about me as a fan? Camping out for tickets shows the team and the community that the student body believes Villanova basketball is worthy not just of our support, but of our ardent dedication.

A camp-out would ensure that students with team spirit get tickets, instead of just those with luck in the lottery. It would also boost excitement and unite fans.

However, the proposed system of the distribution of some season tickets through a camp-out combined with a random ticket lottery is flawed. First, it entails an e-mail notification of the location of the camp-out 10 minutes before it begins. This means that the students who are lucky enough to check their e-mail at the right time are at an advantage. This isn’t a problem for people who can check their e-mail whenever they want – including during class – but what about, for example, people who work and can’t check their e-mail on the job? Should a faithful fan miss out because he or she has a commitment? Also, students living on campus would benefit over those who would need to drive to campus once they got the e-mail.

Another flaw is that a very limited number of students would be able to participate. Only 200 to 600 students would be allowed to camp out. Zealous fans unlucky enough to be turned away from the camp-out would have a smaller chance of getting tickets in the random lottery than with the exclusive use of a random lottery. The most dedicated fans should be at the games, but this system does not guarantee that these fans will have a chance of getting season tickets, and further decreases their odds of obtaining a ticket through the random lottery.

Finally, if the system doesn’t work out – which is very possible, with the faults mentioned above – tickets for the entire season are affected. After students spend one night camping out, the season tickets they are promised can’t be taken away from them. If it is a disaster, every single game suffers.

A fairer option would be to use a random ticket lottery for most games and camp-outs for tickets to several of the biggest games. Ideally, we could keep the weighted lottery system, but it’s not possible. Even though a random lottery wouldn’t guarantee that devoted fans would get tickets, the chances would be better without the limitation of available tickets by a season-ticket package.

Camp-outs planned in advance for important games would give all students a fair opportunity to participate, which means that devoted fans would be more likely to get tickets. Using these camp-outs to allocate all tickets would also allow more people to take part.

Also, if the first camp-out failed, it would only affect one or two games. Any subsequent camp-outs could be canceled and a random lottery could be used for the rest of the season.

Camping for tickets would be a fun way to demonstrate commitment to the team and boost fan solidarity, as long as the method allows every devoted fan a fair chance at getting a ticket. This requires a system of advanced notice and a large quantity of tickets. I hope that SGA and the administration can resolve these issues and come up with a satisfactory plan. If they do, I’ll see you at the camp-out.

Just don’t ask me to help you pitch your tent.