K-State students support early-entry point system for the Sunflower Showdown

Shredded paper flies while the K-State starting line-up is announced on Feb. 10, 2016 in Bramlage Coliseum. (File Photo by Rodney Dimick | The Collegian)

On Thursday, the Collegian reported on the early-entry points system that Kansas State uses for the annual men’s basketball game against Kansas.

In the story, multiple viewpoints were shown. One student said that it was a fair system, while another said that some students were unaware of the point system and that was why they did not go to as many games.

While it is impossible to find out how the majority of the student body at K-State feels about the system, a few select students can voice the opinion of many. Christian Stromgren, senior in finance, and Kolby Harris, senior in elementary education, voiced what they thought of the system.

Stromgren and Harris are both in the first tier of ICAT seating for the KU game due to their constant commitment to attending games. Both agreed that the early-entry point system works well.

“It actually makes sense,” Stromgren said. “It’s good incentive for big games. I think it’s a good payoff for them to do that, for sure.”

Harris pointed out that the system increases attendance repetition.

“From what I’ve seen, the reward system is the best,” Harris added. “The people that we see in tier one every year are the same people that we see at every game, almost every time.”

The main reason that the points system exists, which has been in place since the 2011-2012 season, is so that students are not skipping classes, but are able to enjoy the Sunflower Showdown from a good seat.

“We’ve got the technology to track that stuff and implement a system where it doesn’t require a student to sit outside for a day or a couple of days just to get a good seat for the basketball game,” Scott Garrett, senior associate athletic director for external operations, said. “That was the genesis of where that program started and we’ve had a couple of different versions of it throughout the course of the last few years, but this one seems to have worked the best.”

The system has not always been like this, though. Back when seating was given on a “first-come, first-serve” basis, students would camp outside of Bramlage Coliseum for multiple days, no matter the circumstances.

Even when the doors finally opened, the first students in line were not guaranteed spots on the front row, as they would then have to race down the cement steps to grab their spots.

Matt Stafford, 2014 K-State alum and current Wichita resident, said that because of the old system of “first-come, first-serve,” the program that K-State currently has in place is the right move.

“I was one of the ones that was there an hour and a half before the game, minimum, for every single game,” Stafford said. “It wasn’t right to me that someone could just randomly decide to go to one game and they just happened to be able to camp out there and get the good seats.”

Even though the current system is preferred by many, there are still flaws to it.

One complaint by both current students and alumni is that some students show up to the game to get their early-entry point, grab whatever promotional item K-State is giving away that day and then go home before the game even begins. So, how can that problem be solved?

One suggestion is rather than allowing students to earn their early-entry point when they show up to the game, give it to them as they leave. If this system was used, people leaving before tipoff would likely be eliminated.

“There were some people who had classes or tests that went late,” Stafford said. “They should still be able to get to most of the games, and scanning them on the way out would be a better way of doing it because the people who are there early always stay until the end of the game. It’s a better way to reward the people who actually deserve the better seats for those games.”

K-State Sports reported that 136 students in the ICAT seating are first-tier, while 12 students qualified for the first-tier in the general admission seating.

Perhaps there are flaws in this system, but for now, students believe it is the best possible way to handle the situation and that the committed students are rewarded properly.

“It’s definitely not a perfect system right now,” Stromgren said. “But I think it’s better than not having a system in place at all.”