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Go Shockers!

I’ve emerged, bleary-eyed but happy, from last weekend’s NCAA men’s basketball marathon with a new favorite team. Wichita State. I really, really want the Shockers to go to the Final Four. Really.

I’ve emerged, bleary-eyed but happy, from last weekend’s NCAA men’s basketball marathon with a new favorite team. Wichita State. I really, really want the Shockers to go to the Final Four. Really.

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I’m fired up because Saturday night, I discovered a joint called The Ticket Reserve, basically a futures market for hard-to-get tickets to sporting events. You can buy a contract to buy, at face value, tickets to (say) the Final Four if (say) Wichita State makes it that far. The value of the contract is determined by supply and demand–a function of the perceived likelihood at any moment that a given team will, in fact, win enough games to get to Indianapolis. If your team gets knocked out of the tournament, your contract instantly becomes worthless.

So, after the Shockers upset Tennessee in the second round on Saturday, I laid out $24 (plus a $5 commission) for a two-ticket (lower level!) Wichita State contract. Plus another $5 (and another $5 commission) for a contract that’ll get me a $99-a-night room at a Comfort Inn six miles from the RCA Dome in Indy. (You try finding a hotel room otherwise.) I like Connecticut, too–but so does everyone else, and a Huskies contract was upwards of $200 per seat.

The next day, George Mason University toppled the University of North Carolina. Very good news, since it meant Wichita State now would face a #10 seed in the regional semis instead of the #2. Suddenly, Shockers contracts were up to $70, so on paper, I’m $111 wealthier. (UConn also gained with the elimination of its toughest potential rival. It’s up to $500 per.)

Now, here’s the question: Is this legal? The Securities and Exchange Commission wrote in 2003 that it’s all cool–that I’m not trading securities. But The Ticket Reserve clearly promotes the notion of the “game within the game”–basically an invitation to buy and sell contracts for profit. Which is my intent, more or less.

I dunno. It feels vaguely…wrong, even if the NCAA itself does condone it. But that won’t stop me from rooting big for the Shockers Friday night.

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