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Tickets still mean something

Do you remember the first major sporting event you attended? Do you remember when it was, where it was, or which teams played in it?

If you don’t, a good way to remember it is to find the ticket for the game if you still have it. Tickets are magical in that way. Even if you don’t remember every single detail of the game, chances are if you look at it, the experiences will start coming back to you.

Sports Illustrated writer Steve Rushin recently wrote a fascinating piece about tickets and how they are meaningful “keepsakes” for many fans.

He’s right. I know several people who still have tickets from various sporting events in boxes around their houses as a way to reflect on an experience they’ll remember.

Usually the experience is positive. It might be someone’s first game ever, a playoff game, an event where something incredible happened or just a few hours that you spent with someone that means a lot to you. Maybe a record was broken, or a championship was won.

Whatever it was, you left the stadium happy and feeling grateful that you were there.

On the other hand, there are some folks that keep tickets from times where things didn’t go well. Not necessarily as a reminder of that misfortunate circumstance, but just as a life experience.

Sure, things didn’t go as you hoped or as you expected, but you were still a part of that. You can compare it to all the good times that you had watching sports and as a reminder to yourself or your kids that things don’t always go the way you hoped.

Those days of keepsake tickets are rapidly disappearing, like many other things in life with the advent of the internet. As Rushin pointed out, more and more people are buying their admission to games online through places like StubHub.

In some cases, even if you wanted to get an actual ticket, you can’t. The NFL decided last year to dump actual tickets in favor of digital ones, and the NBA sends tickets to your phone from the box office.

The league that still holds onto the idea of hard tickets is Major League Baseball, which is appropriate, I suppose. Baseball is America’s pastime and for the majority of us, our first stadium experience was at a baseball game.

A sport that is seen by many as stubbornly stuck in the past has become the last place where you can hold a physical reminder of an important event in your life.

For many of you, you probably have tickets stashed somewhere. Maybe not in your current vicinity, but they’re somewhere in your home, or maybe your parents’ home. They may not even be from a sporting event. It could be a concert, a play, a musical or maybe a trip to a national park or monument.

But something made you want to hold onto it and I bet if you dug them out of whatever spot you put them in, the memories would start coming back.

My generation is a little different, but despite what image you might have of us Millennials, it’s really not our fault. Most of us would love to have tickets to hang onto for years to come, but with the switch to a digital age, we don’t get to have that. At least not anymore.

I think my parents might have kept the tickets from the first couple baseball games I went to when I was little and placed them in a scrapbook, but these days, finding a hard ticket to keep as a memento is quite difficult.

Many of my peers have taken their own kids to games and some have said they wished they’d had a physical ticket for their kids to remember the game.

Programs are becoming expensive — I bought a commemorative Super Bowl program two years ago at a shop in Minneapolis and it cost me $35 — and a stuffed animal can only do so much. Unless your kid got that stuffed tiger at Comerica Park, or lion at Ford Field or googly-eyed block of cheese at Lambeau Field after they turned 8 years old, they’re probably not going to remember when they got it.

These days, I don’t attend many sporting events for fun. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy myself, but nine times out of 10, I’m usually working on deadline.

The last event I went to where I didn’t have an article due immediately was the Frozen Four two years ago, and even then I ultimately was writing about my experience when I returned to the Upper Peninsula.

So I have to go even further back to remember a game that wasn’t somehow work-related. That was a Minnesota Twins game three years ago. Things change when you become a sportswriter.

Since I don’t get to many games anymore where I can keep tickets, I keep my media passes. I still have all of them and they’re hanging in various places around my apartment.

Those are my physical reminders of things I’ve covered, like Kraft Hockeyville 2016, my MHSAA passes from 2014 and 2015 when Munising and Ishpeming went to Detroit for their respective state championship football games, my pass to the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 and many more.

Those are my beloved “tickets,” but who knows how much longer it’ll be before I don’t get media passes and instead, they have to scan my fingerprint, or the bar code on my neck to get in. It just won’t be the same.

Times are changing, or maybe they already have and we missed it. But the days of hard tickets are almost over.

So if you happen to go to a game and you manage to get one, make sure to hang onto it.

Someday, it may be the only thing you have left to help you remember what you saw.

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.