Saturday, July 14, 2007

For the Love of the Game (Camping Out…)

Over the past year, I’ve been intrigued by fans camping out for high tech gear like the PlayStation3 and just recently, Apple’s iPhone. Sure there are compelling reasons to work up the nerve to ask the boss man for vacation time for such an adventure. After all, time earned off is… frankly speaking, your time off, so no one should care anyway. Most working class heroes long for an escape from the drudgery of work, socking away money in a hidden cookie jar to embrace the day – that defining day - to experience the perfect escape route to a high tech fantasy world of fighting demons, hunting down the enemy or barreling down the highway at 120 mph with the highway patrol in hot pursuit.

Controlling your exhilarating moments of victory and defeat in the PS3 or Xbox game world, I’m told makes time management unimportant. The expectations of living life in the working world comes to a standstill. Should a dragon breathe his fire and wrath upon you burning you to a crispy matchstick figure, with a simple press of the button, resetting the game and asking for a do-over is easier than forgiveness on the factory floor.

Hand eye coordination is key to winning; Apple’s iPhone requires one finger to point, swipe and open / close with thumb and pointer finger dexterity.

But there is something that I experienced first hand, up close and personal today.

Holding eight 2 ½ x 6 ½ 4 color tickets in the clutched fist of the hand close to the heart releases a rush of passionate ecstasy that no gaming system or iPhone can match.

It’s called the NFL Experience. Yes, August is upon us – here in America, real football known as the National Football League prepares to kick off to the masses of stadium filled pigskin enthusiasts. Saturday morning at 10 AM here in Nashville, Tennessee, single game tickets go on sale to the general public.

Wednesday evening, David, Judith and family made the three plus hour trek from East Tennessee into Nashville to claim the first spot in line. Two hours later at 11 PM, John and Jennifer joined them, pitching tents against the gated entrances of LP Field to secure single-game tickets for the Tennessee Titans.

I was curious as to why not go on the Internet at and secure your tickets the high tech way? Besides the usual complaints of the high service charges levied by ticketmaster and the exponential pool of competition of fans vying for the same tickets, camping out in line for three nights ensures a defined pecking order.

David and Judith have been camping out for four years.

They enjoy the camaraderie and friendships built over the years with folks like John and Jennifer. They increased their fortune this year, moving from number 82 last year to 2nd in line.

“This is our seventh year in a row that we’ve been here; I’ve even camped out for the three playoff games,” said John. “I don’t have to fool with scalpers or worry about whether the tickets are legit or not.”

His wife Jennifer has her bare feet propped upon an ice cooler in the 90-degree heat, as she should – nearly seven months pregnant, she loves Titans football.

So what does the Titans organization think about the passion exhibited by camping out?

“The Titans are great! They brought us out pizza last night, offer us a chance to cool off in the air conditioned room if it gets too hot, and even set up Port-A-Potties for us to use,” said Judith.

John added, “We even had lunch from the Titans and some businesses drop by with food, so we get to have extra food!”

Would you wait in line for a PlayStation, I asked John. “No way, you have to be crazy to camp out when two months later, you can get a PlayStation at regular price. With Titans football tickets, it’s the experience of the game day. I’m looking forward to see Indianapolis and the New York Jets play here at LP Field.”

Fans can purchase a maximum of four tickets to a maximum of two home games with prices ranging from $34 to $67 per ticket. The available pools of tickets are 2,500 tickets to each of the 8 regular season and two preseason home games.

Later, Don MacLachlan, executive vice president of administration and facilities for the Titans stopped by to check on how the campers are doing. “Yeah, he drops by, asks how we’re doing and if there is anything we need. Last year, Drew Bennett (Titans wide receiver) dropped by to talk to us. The Titans really care about their fans,” added John.

Jim Caple of ESPN sums up what I witnessed today in his article, 101 things all sports fans must experience before they die.

# 64 of 101:

Camp out for tickets (any event). If a game isn't worth investing a cold, wet night in a tent with hundreds of other rabid fans and sharing your love for a common goal, then maybe you should reassess your priorities in life.

True, so true. It’s in the game. Go Titans!

More photos at my Flickr set

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