There was a time when I was a grateful sports fan. I was the one who walked into an arena and claimed, “There is not a bad seat in this place.”

I lied.

After years of sitting in media seats, I have come to a simple conclusion: Nosebleed seats are horrible, and you can’t enjoy a game while sitting in them. So, for all you non-credentialed souls, I present a guide on how to sneak into the better seats. You’re welcome.

QUESTION: SHOULD COLLEGE ATHLETES BE PAID BY THE NCAA?

 

Getting the ticket

— Try not to pay. Talk to your friends, to your boss, to random people outside the stadium. Someone has an extra ticket they’re looking to get rid of. Find it. It doesn’t matter what seat it is, you just need to get in the arena.

— If you don’t want to go through personal humiliation to save cash, then just head to the arena a few minutes late and find a desperate scalper: “Look buddy, it’s me or nothing. Some money is better than none.”

 

Getting into the good sections

— Get to the arena well before the game starts and just head to the lower bowl. No usher will check your ticket if you are just going down to watch pre-game warmups.

— If you arrive when the game is about to begin or when the action has already started, things get a bit more challenging. You can try to pull the halftime sneak-down, but ushers are looking for this and will often come ask to see your ticket once you have chosen a seat. There are better ways.

— Look for the “chill” usher. The 65-year-old, ex-Army general wants to catch people. That’s why he’s still doing this job. It gives him great joy to watch no-good college kids go right back to where they belong. Don’t give him the satisfaction — just avoid him. Look for a young usher, but not one who thinks he can save the world by checking tickets. Find the one wearing a wrinkled shirt and sneaking looks at his phone — that’s your man.

— If you see a big group (preferably a family), strike up a conversation while you’re walking to the portal. The usher will see the legitimate tickets, think you are with the group and congratulations, you are in. The best way to make this look believable is to get into an argument with a younger child, which may cause some weird looks from Dad, but it’s worth it.

— Sneak behind the usher while he is helping somebody else. Don’t be like James Bond, secret-agent type sneaky, just move quickly by him/her like you’ve done this many times before. Confidence — it works during job interviews, on dates and sneaking down to expensive seats.

 

Staying in the seats

— Once in the seats, things can kind of turn into Russian roulette. You don’t know what seats are going to be occupied, so choose one and pray. Now, it’s important to always be thinking ahead. If someone comes and says they are in your seat, then you need to know where to move to next. You never want to get in the position of standing there searching for an empty seat. That’s when you get caught.

— Many people sell their tickets on KSL.com, so if you can see one that has not been sold, sit there.

— You may end up switching seats many times over the course of the game (damn late-comers) but just don’t think anything of it. You don’t have to explain yourself to the person who actually bought the tickets, just get up and move, and they will forget about you.

— If you need to leave to get food or use the toilet, strike up a conversation with the usher as you are leaving the section. Make it memorable and funny and then when you get back he will recognize you and shouldn’t think twice about letting you back in. It also helps if your hands are full. (You didn’t pay for a ticket, you can sacrifice a couple bucks for food).

 

There you have it. Enjoy the escape from upper-bowl hell.

r.miller@chronicle.utah.edu

@millerjryan