A Memorial, TicketMaster, and the World Today
Yesterday morning, thousands of us sat anxiously at our computers watching the seconds bleed away towards 10:00 a.m., when tickets would become available for perhaps the most significant event to occur on Penn State’s campus in the school’s 157-year history.
As I saw the tweets and Facebook statuses declaring success or disappointment about the results of the ticket rush, something just felt wrong to me. I felt uncomfortable seeing friends excited to have tickets right next to messages from others desperately trying to find an extra ticket for one final goodbye. Many have compared it to the same feelings brought on by the student season football ticket sale, and it disappoints me to have to agree.
Think about it. Has attending a funeral ever before contained both feelings of relief and good fortune? Have we reduced the ancient practice of commemorating a life of a human being to something as trivial as seeing who can click fastest? I realize that this method presents the most practical option, but it still doesn’t sit quite right with me.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the thousands who will fill the BJC on Thursday do or don’t care about JoePa as much as those who will not. I also do not have a better solution to propose, which I realize makes this entire post sound whiny. However, what of the older generation of Penn State alumni and fans who saw Coach Paterno’s illustrious career and life in its entirety? The odds fell against them with the distribution occurring on TicketMaster, though some tickets were available via phone as well. Think about JoePa himself seated at a computer attempting to figure out the process of securing tickets on TicketMaster. It’s okay to laugh, I laughed while writing it.
Some have questioned the decision to hold the service in the Bryce Jordan Center instead of at Beaver Stadium, where ten times as many supporters could attend and where Coach Paterno spent many, many Saturdays giving us something to cheer about. While that proposition paints a romantic picture, it makes little sense, especially given this lovely late January weather. Plus, one has to assume that the Paterno family made the call to hold the service at the Jordan Center, and their wishes matter far more than anyone else’s.
I will attend tomorrow’s service to pay my respects to a man whose namesake I proudly represent as a Paternoville officer, a man whose generosity and compassionate gave, and will continue to give, us all inspiration, and a man who should be remembered for the thousands of lives he changed for the better. Still, I can’t help but feel slightly guilty knowing that I must present a ticket to do so, knowing that there are many others who could, and possibly should, have the same opportunity instead of me.