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The Story of the Rose Bowl Student Tickets: Who Really Belongs in Hell?

It appears that running up the score paid great dividends for the Wisconsin Badgers, as they have been selected to play in the Rose Bowl against TCU on January 1. The last time Wisconsin played in the Rose Bowl was in 1999, when they beat the Stanford Cardinal 17-9. This is going to be a real treat for all of their players, coaches, and fans.

In order to ensure a strong presence of their student fans at the Rose Bowl, each University was given 5,800 tickets to sell at a discounted cost. Of course, the Badger tickets were sold out within 20 minutes of being made available. And, not surprisingly, many students came out empty handed.

What drew ire from the unlucky students was when they subsequently found out that many of the students who had purchased tickets from the University were not at all interested in attending the game; they wanted to make a quick buck. Right after purchasing the tickets they were up for resale on other websites for double and triple the cost.

The University’s paper, The Badger Herald, had this to say about the profiteers: “Truly, there is a special place in Hell for people who buy Rose Bowl tickets with the sole intention of profiting from them. It is entirely unfair to those who actually love this football team and were counting on a cheap face value ticket in order to make the trip to Pasadena an economic reality.”

Clearly, this is an emotional issue for the University and its fans; but they might be barking up the wrong tree. As Jemille Hill writes in her ESPN column, “If there’s a special place in hell for someone who re-sells a ticket to a sporting event for more than face value, then hell is going to have an extensive waiting list.” What these students did was not illegal. While the University prohibits the resale of tickets for a game in its jurisdiction, the same rules do not apply in Pasadena, CA.

However, for the Wisconsin students, this game is much different than Super Bowl tickets or any other hot ticket item. Students have about a 4 year window for their school to earn a trip to the Rose Bowl and be eligible for discounted tickets. The Badgers have not been to the Rose Bowl in 10 years! Ripping this opportunity away from the excited students for one’s own personal benefit cannot be categorized as a crime, but its wrong.

The Bible is filled with ethical and social commandments that teach us to do the right thing. It goes without saying that the Bible can’t possibly list every single scenario of when to do the right thing because the applications and circumstances are so vast. Instead, the Bible adds one very important commandment: “And you shall do what is proper and good in the eyes of the Lord.” Here we have a general directive from God to always do what’s right. A legal act is not necessarily an ethical one. The Bible is asking us to look beyond the legal aspects of the situation and do what is right.

In the case of the Rose Bowl and the great Wisconsin fans, the right thing to do would have been to allow the students who desperately wanted to attend the game to have had the first chance at purchasing those tickets. Alternatively, the University could have required the students to pick up their tickets in Pasadena, thereby scaring off the profiteers who had no interest in making the trip out to California.

I feel bad for the students who missed out; but I also feel bad for the profiteers who were told that they were going to Hell. The author of that statement completely overstepped his boundaries. True- it was meant as tongue in cheek, but the writers should have been more cognizant of the ramifications of their hurtful words.

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