Dueling Columns: Lay off the students and look in the mirror

Dueling columns

Dueling columns

Kelsey Mattingly

A debate has sparked on Twitter about the recent lack of student attendance at Kentucky basketball’s three exhibition games and two season openers. 

All of the outrage, from what is mostly older fans and alumni, came after an abnormally low student attendance at Kentucky’s Sunday matchup against Vermont. Finance junior Sam Willoughby voiced his outrage to the Kernel in favor of students defending their low turnout. 

“I was not at the game because I was studying for an exam I have today,” Willoughby said. “I would say the three main issues affecting attendance are the lottery, TV and price, not the team itself.”

These are all valid reasons why students haven’t packed, or even come close to filling, the eRUPPtion Zone this season. For starters, the lottery system is incredibly time-consuming, with students spending up to five hours in total standing in line and then sitting through the randomized numbering process. In reality, a lot of students would rather spend time doing literally anything else, like studying for exams.

Over the years, several alternatives to the lottery process have been presented. The ticket distribution fad has also evolved since the earlier days, with the university surely doing what is in the best interest of its students.

“If it was online, students could be doing other things while participating in the lottery,” Willoughby said. “Another idea is just get rid of the lottery altogether and make it first come, first serve.” 

Then, you have the fact that the ticket pricing has doubled from $5 to $10, and if you think that’s foolish to be outraged over, here’s a better breakdown; students pay for four to five game tickets per lottery round. That used to be $20 in one sitting versus what is now $40.

For students who fund their own college experience, including tuition, rent, bills and other daily expenses, that extra $20 can make or break a lot of things. The amount of ramen noodles one could buy with $20 or gas to get around Lexington seems to be a better tradeoff than standing in Rupp Arena to watch Vermont at 3:30 p.m. on a Sunday.

Now, there are plenty of people out there who are wagging their fingers at all of the lazy, degenerate UK students whining about a $5 ticket increase. The high-paying fans who sit in the lower level of the arena and are a huge part of the problem.

The university and its proxies cannot expect students to show up and stand up when the rest of Rupp Arena will not follow suit. No matter how wild the student section gets, fans in the lower level shoot side-eyes and judgmental glares at fans who dare to stand and cheer for more than five seconds. If they want students to do their part, they should be held to the same standard. 

This entire debate is only dividing Kentucky fans when we should be coming together for a young team who needs our support. At the end of the day, the issue is all one big conspiracy to turn fans against students so then the university can use it as an excuse to take away student seats and sell them to season ticket holders. When that happens, no one will care what students say when they complain, and the administration will have found yet another way to turn their backs on students and squeeze even more money out of fans.

Clearly this is not and should not be the end all be all of Kentucky’s season. Attendance will inevitably pick up once students are familiarized with the team and games are against more well-known teams. One key thing to remember, though, is that millennials are not ruining everything. Those who tried to take the second regular season home game and cause an unnecessary attack on students: it’s time to look in the mirror.

Maybe millennials aren’t the problem after all.

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