It won’t be long before we get into football season, and “Roll Tide” and “War Eagle” will be screamed across Alabama and surrounding states to root for our teams. It is a tradition of tailgating, get-togethers, and… ticket “scalping.”
It is a known fact that our universities make big bucks with their sports. If anyone wants proof, he should have a look at the Alabama and Auburn campuses and note the numerous fancy buildings and facilities that have mushroomed everywhere. Parts of the Tuscaloosa campus are almost unrecognizable from what the looked like just a few years ago.
Obviously the universities are making tons of money from the tickets they sell for their sports. But for some strange and unknown reason, politicians and certain other people feel that fans and others buying and later re-selling these tickets for a profit is a sin, a crime, or both. They call it “scalping.” But why? They love to see their projects make money, but they can’t stand to see private individuals making a few dollars for themselves.
Investing in items and later selling them for profits has always been a fundamental free enterprise activity since before the dawn of written history. Every person has a sovereign, natural right to sell, or re-sell, his own property. It is perfectly honest and legitimate. But according to various state and local regulations, investing in sports tickets and selling them for a profit is unlawful, unless the people involved first purchase special, expensive licenses to do so. If caught, “violators” can face stiff fines and/or other penalties.
Re-selling tickets has been practiced for many years. In the early days, nobody objected or had any problems with it. But eventually a few people began to complain that a small number of people were buying up large quantities of tickets to key games, holding them until they are all sold out, and selling them shortly before the games for sizable profits. They felt short changed because they did not buy the tickets early at their original prices.
In economics, it’s all a matter of supply and demand. The “scalpers” could not get their “high” prices if nobody was willing to pay them. Nobody is being forced to buy the tickets (unlike Obamacare). In addition, the “scalpers” are taking a calculated risk—if their teams do poorly early in the season, the demand for their later games could diminish sharply, and they could end up holding expired tickets they could not sell. It is the same kind of risk stock market investors take when buying options.
There are two factors that allow the “scalpers” to make their profits: 1. The original ticket prices may be set too low. 2. People are allowed to buy more tickets than they can reasonably use.
An obvious solution would be to simply raise the original prices of the tickets. This would make “scalping” less profitable. It would also provide extra revenue for the universities, which they would certainly love to get. However, if they did do this, the ethical thing to do would be to offset the extra ticket revenue (which is voluntary) with an equal cut in education taxes (which are mandatory).
Another remedy would be to limit the number of tickets any person could purchase. He would have to show his ID, and be limited to no more than 2 (or perhaps 4) tickets for each game. These purchases would be recorded in a database. If the tickets don’t sell out when the game approaches, then the limit could be ended.
Let our political “leaders” haggle over what solutions they want to use to address ticket “scalping.” But one thing is clear. Whether it’s tickets or any other items, they should never violate any individual’s right to sell his own property. That includes mandating any kind of license, permit, or any other impediment that would interfere with that right.