Last year Covid drove the US Open to close all access to fans. The tournament was eerily quiet as top players from around the world competed in empty stadiums.
The 2021 US Open offered a welcome change, especially for the players, as the New York audience cheered with pent-up energy and encouraged their favorite players.
But this Open was still affected by the pandemic as changes were needed to assure the health of fans and players alike.
All tickets were digital
This eliminated the need for box office sales. You had to appear with your ticket on your phone and there was no way to purchase a paper ticket from a human being. There were some glitches in the way that people received their tickets, especially from Stub Hub, where an extra step was needed to have the original ticketholder transfer the ticket to the buyer. But, overall, the technology worked and the box office staff didn't.
There was also a noticeable loss of the secondary in-person market that always crops up. Scalpers were nowhere to be seen. Without paper tickets, there was no way to sell tickets last minute as people entered the grounds. And, the natural result of illegal ticket selling is that there was less need for uniformed and undercover police that address scalping.
This also meant the disappearance of legal resellers including Stub Hub staffers, who positioned their offices far enough away from the grounds to resell legally. No paper tickets meant that this on-the-spot business disappeared.
Technology replaced decision-making
Finally, the linesmen were eliminated and replaced with cameras that determined whether the balls were in or out of bounds. The parade of linesmen that was part of the pomp of the games for many years was no longer. Like the changing of the guard, they no longer marched onto the court, making a formal entry at the beginning of each match. These employees also lost their jobs.
Now that all tickets are digital and human decision-making has been replaced by technology, these changes are likely to be permanent.
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