Safe Sport Zone's nationwide online ticketing program for high schools takes aim at preventing melees.
Jay Hammes, longtime athletic and activities director at Horlick High School in Racine, Wis., spent the past six years studying ways to make prep sporting events safer. The solution he came up with is a free, nationwide online ticketing and fan identification program that is expected to launch later this year - just in time for the winter sports season.
"A lot of the problems today with fights and weapons involve young participants who don't attend any school," Hammes says. "Unless a name is on the ticket and you have an ID system in place at the gate, there's not an effective way to curb unwanted people from coming in."
The online ticket program Hammes developed will allow schools to sell tickets via the Safe Sport Zone web site (www.safesportzone.com). A surcharge of 75 cents - to allow the program to operate without financial input from schools - will be assessed to every fan purchasing an online ticket. Each ticket will be printed with the ticket-holder's name on it, and an identification card for students or a driver's license for adults will be required at the gate or gymnasium doors to gain entry to the game. There's even a feature of the program that can flag specific individuals and bar them from purchasing tickets.
"The younger generation thinks nothing of purchasing almost everything online," says Mike Blackburn, associate executive director of the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association, which along with the National Federation of State High School Associations has endorsed the program. "I don't know if this program is instantly going to be the answer to convenience and safety issues, but I see great promise for it."