Resting on the corner of my father’s dresser in our old house was a tall glass pitcher full of ticket stubs. Having long ago lost its identity as a generic container, the pitcher transformed with each new addition into something more. By the time I was old enough to care, it was overflowing and looked more like a Cézanne still life than a simple glass. That’s just how I treated it—as a masterpiece. One of my favorite things to do was to empty it and rifle through the stubs, exploring every event my dad had been to, from Rush concerts to Penguins games. Every single ticket in that pitcher was the ultimate souvenir—a paper rectangle that made the same simple but important statement: he’d been there.
My own efforts to mimic my father’s collection have fallen far short, but it’s not because I’ve been denied my share of games and concerts. My pitcher—the corkboard hutch on my desk—is sparse because of a sad development in the world of live sports: the death of the ticket stub.
On the way out of a Nationals game that I attended last week, I stopped at a trashcan to dispose of my ticket. Such an act is a sin in my household, but this particular ticket, which I had picked up from a scalper outside the gate, was a computer printout. No reverence is owed to these online Ticketmaster abominations, which look more like Mapquest directions than ticket stubs. I’d just as soon tack a hotdog wrapper to my corkboard as a folded piece of printer paper.
Of course, it’s my decision to use Ticketmaster or any other website that offers printable tickets. The stubs still exist at the end of the long lines at the box office, but the prevalence of the printed variety seems to grow each year, and why not? Online tickets guarantee your seat in advance and expedite your trip into the venue—two undeniably positive things.
So while I shudder at the thought of a world without ticket stubs, I guess I don’t really have any answers. Chalk it up to technology and the evolution of sports entertainment, and cherish every traditional stub that you manage to get your hands on. I just hope that years from now when I sit my kid down and talk sports, he believes me when I tell him that I was there.