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Give K-Ville a chance

I know what you're thinking. I've overheard some variation of the same conversation taking place all over campus the last two days, at least among those of us that aren't VIPs or part of the "family":

Krzyzewskiville is finished. Another Duke tradition has been destroyed. The line monitors are power-hungry traitors. Long live the DukeCard revolution!

Okay, so I made the last one up. But students everywhere seem to be really peeved about the proposed changes to the men's basketball admission policy. And I openly admit that I was as incensed as anyone after hearing the news that they were doing away with the old system. Heck, I was even prepared to title this column "Krzyzewskiville, Waiting Room for the Cameron Crazies, Is Dead at 21."

As a result, I decided to get a hold of Roberto Bazzani, the head line monitor, to see if he could shed some more light on the proposed changes. What I found was that I had several misconceptions about the new policy that, once cleared up, actually made me a believer in the new system.

Misconception 1: Last season was a fluke.

After last year's record-low undergraduate attendance, the athletic department demanded that changes be made to the admissions policy to ensure that there wouldn't be any more empty seats in Cameron. I originally thought that last year's poor crowds were more of an abnormality than anything else, the result of a mediocre basketball team and a freshman class that just wasn't that enthusiastic about basketball. However, Bazzani said that there has been a steady decline in men's basketball admissions over the last five years and that he believes that the culprit is the myth that it's necessary to show up hours ahead of time just to get a crappy seat at the game.

"The [new] system was designed for people who don't want to be out there for a long time," Bazzani said. "It wasn't designed for the hard core people, because they'll always be there."

In other words, because 100 morons decide to sleep outside on the sidewalk for a front-row seat for an exhibition game against NCCU, people assumed the only way to get in is to wait outside until you develop frostbite. I found this to be a little curious, because one could often get in around tip-off, but apparently the new system is designed to convince people that they don't have to own a sleeping bag to get into a game.

Misconception 2: Any unreserved spots in the student section will be given away or sold.

In reality, the line monitors will reserve the right to determine the number of extra seats, if any, that the ticketing office can distribute to non-Duke students. For example, let's say 900 of the 1200 spaces in the student section are reserved when the online validation system closes at midnight before the game. If the line monitors expect the attendance to be greater than 900, they can decide to keep a percentage-if not all-of the extra seats for walk-ups.

Misconception 3: The online system will deter people from walking up to the game.

On game day, the line monitors will check the validation of those in the reservation line with a wireless DukeCard reader. Aside from the security aspect of this protocol, it will also allow the line monitors to post a running estimate of the total number of people that are actually in line for the game. So, if 700 of the 900 people with validations check in an hour before the game, people without reservations will see that there at least 200 walk-up slots available. Additionally, since the gates will still open 90 minutes before tip-off, walk-ins will be able to go right into the student section.

It seems to me that this policy is trying out. The 500 or so die-hard fans who show up to every game will still get their great seats; if this new system provides the motivation to get the other 700 students into the building, then I'm all for it.

Nevertheless, there is room for improvement in the policy. The system doesn't work if a large number of people repeatedly register and then skip the game, If someone misses three or more games that they've validated for, they should have their reservation rights temporary suspended. People on "probation" will still be allowed to walk-up and attend the game, they just can't reserve a seat for the next two games or so. Not only will this stop abuse of the system, as people will be less likely to validate "just in case" they want to go, but also will ensure a higher yield and more accurate attendance projections.

Additionally, there should be a way to preserve the experience of waiting for a wristband game. Aside from personal check nights before UNC, I can't think of a better time I had in K-Ville than in line before the Michigan State game in 2004 and the Maryland game in 2006. For those games, it seemed as if the entire school was out there and the anticipation was already sky-high for games that wouldn't even be played until the next night. In the proposed policy, however, wristband games are gone. Bazzani said he will think about implementing some type of single-color wristband distribution for important, non-tenting games; since the Terrapin game will be a tenting game this year, this change would really only apply to Wisconsin, which is the biggest home matchup of the fall semester.

At the end of the day, the only way this system will work is if people show up. If people continue to be more interested in Parizades and problem sets than they are in basketball, the line monitors will have less flexibility to prevent seats from being sold to strangers who don't have ties to Duke. Hopefully this system will work because if not, I seriously fear for the future of the Cameron Crazies.

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