Today is opening day for the Kansas City Chiefs. I have been going to Chiefs games with my mom for as long as I can remember. My mom has been a season ticket holder for over 30 years and it’s because of the Chiefs that my parents met—working backstage at a concert at Arrowhead in the ’70s. Every July/August, we await receiving our tickets in the mail. Our team may struggle, but it’s the first sign of Fall and we love football. But this year, we no longer have paper tickets to keep as souvenirs. This is because season ticket holders received a set of plastic cards—one set that you use repeatedly throughout the season.
When I heard about the plastic cards, I have to admit, I was a little sad. One of the things I loved about getting those tickets in the mail every year was seeing what players or personnel were featured on the them. I really liked the tickets with the holograms on them too. Walking up to the gate, my mom would pass out the tickets for that game. I’d walk through the turnstile and get my ticket torn (or scanned as it has been the past few years). There was always something satisfactory about getting the ticket torn. And after the scanners replaced tearing ticket stubs, I would often tear my ticket myself just because it made it feel more official.
My mom has cardboard boxes full of tickets and backstage passes that she has collected over the years from working in the concert industry. My sister and I also each have our own tickets and passes from shows we attended growing up. I have ticket stubs and backstage passes that were signed by various artists and also passes that my parents gave to us after they’d get home from work.
Tickets and backstage passes are a big part of my childhood, you could say. Looking at them, I remember the good times I had and the friends who attended with me. When I was 10, my dad took me to an Amy Grant concert and I got to sit within the first 10 rows of the stage. It’s the first concert I really remember. I remember being ecstatic every time the stage lights would illuminate the audience. I got to go up on stage with a bunch of other little kids and before the show, I got to go backstage. Every time I look at the ticket and backstage pass from this show, I remember how excited I was and how much that gift from my dad meant.
Similarly, we frequently take friends to Chiefs games who have never before attended a professional football game. In the past, they got to keep their ticket stub as a keepsake. But with the plastic cards, this will no longer be possible. They will have to return the card to us and leave empty-handed. Supposedly you can print your own ticket, but it’s not the same—no more holographic images and the paper is just wrong too.
I understand the reasoning behind the change to the plastic cards. It saves trees and on printing costs. You no longer have to pay people to count ticket stubs—which is a real pain; I’ve had that job before. It’s probably more difficult to counterfeit the cards too. But a concert or sporting event ticket is a piece of memorabilia, it’s a keepsake and it’s an important part of the experience. Without it, the day is just not complete.
Things were easy as we walked into the stadium today. There were no hang-ups with the scanners. People were dressed in red and shouting the “tomahawk chop” cheer everywhere we walked. But without a paper ticket in my pocket, it just wasn’t the same. Something vital was missing and I didn’t have a ticket to take home with me to remember the day.
I suppose that not having a real ticket is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. Football is still here and Fall is on its way. And the lack of a paper ticket isn’t going to change that. Even so, I miss the sweet sound of the perforated tearing of my ticket as I walk into the stadium and take my seat with my fellow Chiefs fans because it proves that I was there, that I took part in the day and that I witnessed greatness.