If you make the decision to move down, prepare yourself for an evening filled with anxiety. For some reason, it’s mildly terrifying sitting in seats that are not your own. Every single person that comes walking toward your section looks like they’re “The One.” You can’t really enjoy the game because you’re constantly scanning for the seat’s rightful owners.
In reality, it’s no big deal. It’s not like you’re in their shower. You’re just sitting in a seat at a game. But it feels like you’re doing something horrible.
And when it finally happens and someone comes up and does the whole pull-their-ticket-out-and-look-confused thing, you have to play it off like you didn’t know: “Oh, look at this. This is section 103. I thought it was 303!” It’s up there in the “Walk of Shame” rankings. It’s fairly humiliating to get bumped, so here are some tips:
—Watch multiple sets for at least the first quarter. This is kind of tough in Oklahoma City, seeing as the arena is 95 percent full nightly. But there are always a few sets of seats not filled. Eye those bad boys for the first quarter, making sure no one ever shows up to them. If they’re clear the entire time, make a move about halfway through the second. Scouting is especially key. You can’t just go after a pair of seats on a whim. You’ve got to do homework.
—Look for a string of six or seven empties. This is part of the planning. It’s better to find a row that has multiple empty seats so that way if, God forbid, someone shows up and you have to move, you can just slide down a bit. And don’t make a big deal of it. Just say, “Oh,” and move over. That’s it. Don’t try and pretend like you were confused or innocent. Just slide over and forget it.
—Don’t be a hero. I know you want to sit courtside. I know you see those two open chairs right at halfcourt. But you’ve got to play it cool. No matter what you’re upgrading, just accept the fact you’re closer. Don’t go for the Jack Nicholson seats. Look for your string of empties and don’t deviate from your plan. If you happen to end up at the top of 103, just accept it. Again, you’re better off than you were.
—Confidence. You can’t try and sneak into your new spot. You’ve got to go down like you own those seats. The moment you commit to sit in them, they are yours. If you hesitate and look uncomfortable, everyone will know you’re the poor person trying to sit with the rich folk. Go in with confidence.
—Sit in the middle of a row. I actually asked one of the ushers for a little advice on this, and he said that sitting in the middle makes you tougher to get. Even if an usher knows you moved up, if you’re in the middle, it’s almost not worth the hassle of getting you out.
—Mind your business. Once you get there, play it cool. Don’t heckle, don’t yell, don’t jump up and down and act like an idiot. You don’t want to draw attention to yourself and the fact you don’t belong.
—If all that fails you, then I guess the last tip I have is this: Spend some money and buy a better seat. But that just seems ridiculous, doesn’t it?
Young is the founder of the DailyThunder.com blog.