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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Got Tickets? Need Tickets?

Got Tickets? Need Tickets?

For $5645.50, you could pay for your full-time education at UMass Boston in the fall. Or, you could put that money toward two tickets to see the Red Sox take on The Evil Empire (New York Yankees for the baseball ignorant) at Fenway Park from Field Box 81 on September 14. Not feeling generous? You and a friend could see a game against the worst team in baseball (as of August 20, 2007) in the same seats for a mere $1,000.00. The problem here in both situations is not necessarily the outlandish cost of the tickets being sold, but rather that the face value is $105.00 per ticket. While the prospect of spending the cost of an education on a baseball game may seem opulent, it’s the lengths that some will go to see Big Papi, smell the Fenway Franks, and guzzle stale (but cold) beer.

Ticket scalping has become big business and recently has been the topic of debate on Beacon Hill. Should scalping be legal? Can it be regulated by the state government? Or is it simply an economic exemplar of unrestrained supply-and-demand, forever extralegal?

Firstly, we begin with a brief history of this most notorious business venture. “Scalping” a ticket is a practice that has been around since the mid-1800’s, when “sidewalk men” (the 1800’s version of the pushy, arrogant entrepreneurs outside Fenway today) sold tickets to people who were willing to buy for any price. In 1873, Boston cracked down on the illegal redistribution of commercial tickets for profit, but the laws went largely unenforced. Some argued that the measures were an encroachment on the Constitutional rights of citizens to operate private business. Boston passed a more precise edict to little avail in 1924, which explicitly outlined the anti-scalping measures and penalties of scalping. As time passed and scalping tickets became more about harassment and badgering than conducting business, society began to view those who engaged in illegal ticket sales less favorably.

In recent months there have been a number of claims that businesses and individuals are violating the 1924 anti-scalping law. It took over 80 years for the law to be enforced, but now officials are cracking down, as ticket prices continue to soar. Many ticket agencies (which are officially licensed businesses) are exceeding the legal limit of a $2.00 markup on each ticket they resell. If agencies obeyed the markup limits, the same tickets that cost over a semester’s tuition would be selling for a maximum total of $107.00 each. Many agencies are finding loopholes in the statute, with some claiming that weekend events are not specified in the 1924 anti-scalping law, therefore allowing the resale of tickets to, for instance, Patriots games at outrageous prices.

Can we blame the scalpers for wanting to make a profit? After all, in a capitalistic society, we are taught to make as much money as we can, and we will be powerful and happy. Now whether or not one believes in the capitalist system or are critics of the profit-making economic system under which we live, for better or for worse, capitalism is the rule of society. We must cut costs while expanding profits in order to be successful in business. The age-old theory of supply-and-demand has ever been the credo of businessmen and large corporations. Like most things in life (taxes and protection rackets aside), if you don’t want to pay for it, you don’t have to buy it. If scalpers are harvesting huge sums of money from tickets to sporting events, concerts, and other ticketed events, they will continue to sell them.

So where does that leave innocent individuals who are not blessed with unlimited bank accounts or friendly connections? Probably without a ticket. But as unfair as that is, ticket scalping is a victimless crime. No one is being harmed by its continuation, and it seems hard that legal statutes will stop the reselling of tickets by scalpers. And I, like many Bostonians, like to enjoy a night at The Garden or Fenway, cheering and yelling and waiting for my mug to be on the JumboTron. Everything in life has its price–whether it’s tickets or tuition. The question is: Are you willing to pay?