I went to my first Razorback sporting event when I was five months old. It was a football game against Alabama in 1994.
Of course, I remember nothing about it. My parents tell me that I slept through the entire game, but that doesn’t matter. I was there.
That game started what became a love affair between me and the Razorbacks.
However, I almost wasn’t able to go. My parents bought tickets several months in advance, anticipating Arkansas’ Fayetteville home opener would be my first game.
They didn’t buy me a ticket, though. They thought, understandably so, that because I was a baby and wouldn’t be taking up a seat, I didn’t need a ticket.
After finding out a couple weeks prior to the game that they needed a ticket for me, they started searching for an extra one, but the game was sold out. Finally, they resorted to desperate measures.
My mom and grandmother got together and wrote a letter to then head coach Danny Ford, explaining the situation, as well as a letter “written by me,” in which I said I would give up my pacifier for a ticket.
They hand delivered the letters to Ford, who read them and sent them to former head coach and then athletic director Frank Broyles. Broyles was moved by the letters, got me a ticket and the rest is history.
Why should you care about this story? Because people still run into this problem, nearly 20 years later.
As I was entering Bud Walton Arena before the the LSU game Saturday, I overheard a man begging a lady in the ticket office for a ticket for his son. I don’t know how old the child was, but he was clearly young enough to where his father would be holding him throughout the entire game.
The ticket office lady could not sell him a ticket because the game was sold out.
This saddens me because this is a problem that could easily be fixed. There needs to be a special “young child ticket.” The ticket could cost the same as a ticket for a normal person, but it would not be assigned to a specific seat like a regular ticket. It would essentially be a general admission ticket that could only be used by children of a certain age.
Having a ticket like this would benefit the program in many ways.
If a family orders tickets ahead of time and purchases one of these special tickets, that will leave more regular tickets available for other fans and would not result in an empty seat.
If a family is unaware their child needs a ticket even if they won’t be taking up a seat and they arrive at the event with too few tickets, this special ticket would always be available for purchase, even during sellouts, because an actual seat is not required.
Finally, it would keep the fan base healthy.
I am unsure if the father was able to find a ticket for his son, but I hope he did. The son will not remember the game when he’s older, but I guarantee his father would tell him the story about being at the game at which Bill Clinton, Nolan Richardson, Eddie Sutton and players from Arkansas’ Final Four teams were honored.
These types of experiences set the tone for young fans. Without my personal experience, I may not be a student at Arkansas and may not be as big of a sports fan as I am today.
So, Jeff Long, the ball is in your court. I am not asking you to quit playing football games in Little Rock or to fire a coach. All I am asking for is a simple policy change.
Broyles endeared himself to me and my family. Now you have a chance to impact the future generation of Razorback fans.