Magazine article Information Today

It's All a Big Gamble: CyberSports

Magazine article Information Today

It's All a Big Gamble: CyberSports

Article excerpt

Remember the good old days when being a sports fanatic meant showing up early for every game, wearing your school/ team colors, and maybe painting your face with a hard-to-remove, booster-ish design?

Man, you're old.

Fans today buy indigestible hours and hours of satellite or digital-cable programming. They tailgate until they're ready to drop. And, apparently, they are high-powered, speculating, money-be-damned ticket buyers, if you look at sites like The Ticket Reserve.

The Ticket Reserve is a stock market for hard-to-find tickets to events such as the Super Bowl, major college bowl games, and the NCAA Final Four (basketball, not soccer). The entire concept may make traditionalists' heads hurt, but here are some highlights.

At the site, fans can buy a "fan forward" for their team to make it to one of the big events. For example, University of Southern California (USC) backers (confident that their team will be playing for the national football title again) can buy a fan forward for USC in the Rose Bowl. If the Trojans make it to the game, that fan forward gives them the right to buy a face-value ticket to the game.

But, if by some act of God the Trojans are knocked out of the Rose Bowl, that fan forward expires the moment that elimination game ends. So does the money the USC fan invested.

A fan forward is bought and sold on the equivalent of an electronic stock market, with prices rising according to supply and demand. (At least as far as I can tell--this being an online ticket broker and not NASDAQ, I'm not sure there are surly federal prosecutors waiting to pounce at any sign of Martha Stewart-like insider trading.)

Any old-timers can take an aspirin now.

If you have loads of confidence that your team--or some team--will make it to The Big Game, you can, in that old stock market adage, "buy low and (if you want to) sell high." This is sort of a Warren Buffet-ish way to skirt ticket brokers (or, as we used to call them in the Dark Ages, scalpers) to land a seat. Of course, if you buy a seat to The Big Game from a ticket broker, even if your team doesn't make it to the game, you still have the ticket to (ahem) resell.

It's all a big gamble, of course. …

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