Super Bowl XLV was going to be a great day. My father passed down his love and passion of sports to me at a young age. We had spoken for years about one day going to see our favorite football team, the Green Bay Packers, play in the Super Bowl.
Several years earlier, my father had an extremely serious medical condition resulting in significant surgery. He had a long road to recovery and my family felt very fortunate to celebrate his 60th birthday the same month as the Super Bowl. As a birthday present, I decided to buy us tickets to the big game.
We both flew thousands of miles and met in Dallas. Super Bowl Sunday arrived and we headed to the stadium early. After we waited in the security line patiently, we were advised there was a problem with our tickets and that we needed to go to Gate F. My initial thought was that I had blown it and bought us fake tickets. We were assured that our tickets were real but were not provided any further explanation of the problem. We were obviously concerned at this point and were eager to begin enjoying the pre-game activities as planned.
When we arrived at Gate F the attendant told us that we did not have proper credentials, so therefore he nor anyone at the Gate could assist us. We explained what the other stadium personnel had said but it did not matter. He instructed us to go to Gate H. We went to Gate H only to find no one there. We then approached various stadium personnel in an effort to receive some guidance and assistance. However, no one could assist us and not one personnel knew what to tell us. We decided to wait until we entered the stadium to see if anyone could assist us.
We entered the stadium and proceeded to our seats in Section 230A. Upon arriving at our section we were advised that the section was closed by the Fire Marshal for safety reasons. After talking to several more stadium employees, an employee said to follow him up an escalator to resolve the issue of tickets. At this point we were with about 15 other individuals in the same situation. When we reached the top of the escalator, we were stunned to see that the employee along with the rest of the people we were with had left us in the middle of the crowd since apparently other people were using the escalator to gain access to the stadium as well. We had no idea what direction he went and could not locate the employee.
At this point, we were feeling desperate and extremely frustrated. There was an unspoken concern that we had traveled all the way to Dallas, gotten to the stadium, and would be unable to watch the game. Several more employees would walk us around the stadium without any success or any solution. At this point, several hours had passed since we first passed through security. Kickoff was fast approaching and we were losing hope.
FINALLY, a supervisor directed us to an area where the ticket issues were being resolved. We waited in line and I saw several people with disappointed looks since the replacement tickets were downgrades from their initial purchases. Our turn finally came and I told the employee calmly about our story. I am still not sure how or why we got so lucky. It could be because we were the only people who were calm, it could be because she liked our story, or it could be because we were just lucky, but the employee wished my father happy birthday and gave us upgraded tickets.
We arrived at our new seats just before kickoff and we had quite a memorable time during the game. Watching the Packers win the Super Bowl with my father is something I will never forget. However, although we were probably the luckiest of all of the displaced fans, I was still left feeling that the NFL did not appreciate how distraught and overwhelmed we were because of the circumstances. Allowing game tickets to be sold to a section of seats that obviously had not been approved was a disgrace. If I had known about the issue, I would have arranged to purchase tickets in another location. While I feel extremely sorry for the individuals who never secured tickets to the game, I still felt harmed by the irresponsible and insensitive actions of the NFL and the Dallas Cowboys. The opportunity to attend another Super Bowl of our choice is a nice gesture by the NFL. However, it is not clear where the tickets will be and we still have to secure our own travel arrangements.
The greed that occurs in professional sports is growing out of control. With the constant work stoppages to Jerry Jones trying to set an attendance record during the Super Bowl, the owners in all sports need to take a step back and appreciate the fans. The bottom line is that sports and entertainment is a business. When I go to work every day, I am not a fan. I toss my allegiances at the door, I do not have any personal feelings towards players, and I do not ask for autographs or pictures.
However, although I rarely attend a sporting event as a fan these days, it is important to keep in mind that most of us in the sports industry started as fans ourselves, and at the end of the day they make the industry go round. Labor disputes would not be occurring if fans did not turn on the television, buy merchandise, and attend games. Without the fans, there would not be a huge pie to split or attendance records to break. As we move forward through the business of sports, it is important to look back and remember how and why we decided to go down this path. Looking back on this experience reminds me of my passion for the industry and desire to be a part of it.