Thinking about attending the NCAA Final Four this year, but don’t have tickets and don’t want to pay scalpers’ prices, which sometimes run up into the thousands of dollars? Help is on the way, in the form of (yet another) futures market. For a small fee, you can buy “reservations” to follow your favorite team to the Final Four in the event that they make it. After you purchase, you can, if you wish, sell your reservations if the team’s fortunes are rising as the field narrows down to four, and score a nice piece of change. If your team falls short and you’ve held onto the reservation, you’re out the nominal cost of the reservation, but that’s it. Or if you’re a steadfast fan and have held onto the reservation and if your team turns out to be one of the charmed four, then off you to to cheer them on to victory, with tickets you’ve purchased at face value plus the reservations charge. On the other hand, if you didn’t purchase a reservation in the first place, you can enter the reservations market and purchase one at whatever someone is willing to sell it for at that moment — and that will entitle you to buy the tickets themselves at face value.
Pretty sweet, eh? Well, yah. But, hmm, doesn’t this sound a little like, er, ticket scalping, and isn’t that illegal in most places? Or maybe it’s not scalping — just plain old gambling? Hmm, I can’t decide. So who’s running this ticket-scalping-or-is-it-gambling operation? Why, it turns out to be a money-making deal for that self-righteous overseer of the morality of college athletes, the NCAA itself. If the NCAA catches an athlete consorting with gamblers or if it finds a player’s complimentary tickets in the hands of scalpers, it’s bye-bye time for the player’s college hoops career, and it’s public humiliation for the transgressor. But let the NCAA itself run the show, and it’s just free enterprise, and who could object to something as all-American as that?
Read all about it here.
[Hat tip to Scott Adler]