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Your Take: Do You Owe Anything for Free Sporting Event Tickets?

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Golden State Warriors Oracle ArenaHere’s a good question for you sports fans out there – Do you owe your friend a beer if he takes you to a game? The basic gist is that someone (James) wrote in that he sometimes gets tickets to games from his employer and when he takes a friend, he expects the friend to buy him two beers. Drew Magary, always an entertaining and outspoken writer, responded that he shouldn’t expect it because James was getting them for free from work (and if the tickets are to see the Golden State Warriors… I would agree!).

Personally, I can see it from both sides. As the giver of tickets, I don’t think you can ever expect anything. You can’t give gifts and expect something in return, that’s just a bad way to go about life because, honestly, you’ll be met with a lot of disappointment. People don’t appreciate things that are free, they appreciate things they have to pay for.

As the recipient of tickets, you should buy your friend some beers. You don’t need to buy as much as the value of the tickets but some sort of thank you would be nice and a couple beers is cheap relative to many tickets. James cited $425 NBA tickets and while I suspect there are probably more $20 baseball tickets than $425 NBA tickets, it’s still more expensive than a $7 beer. The only exception to this is if you get tickets to a box where the food and drink are free… then you’re both making out like bandits anyway and griping about beers is like stealing ball point pens during a bank robbery.

What do you think? Do you owe a beer to a friend if he gets you free tickets? Do you expect a beer or some free food?

(Photo Credit: bryce_edwards)

{ 21 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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21 Responses to “Your Take: Do You Owe Anything for Free Sporting Event Tickets?”

  1. I’m with you, completely. To expect something in return is a bit ridiculous–it’s not a gift anymore then–but if I were given tickets, yes, I’d take care of the snacks, and least partly.

    Okay, I just would refuse them because I don’t much care for sports, but IF I wanted to go…. :)

  2. Brandon says:

    Was that a jab at the Warriors? They’re actually pretty good this year :)

  3. Stephen - NYC says:

    Years ago a friend’s dad used to get Mets tickets from his employer’s vendors (ah, those were the good ol’ days). So off to Shea we went. I made to sure buy at least one round of food & beverages for him. I don’t recall, but I might have even paid for the parking (it wasn’t such a ripoff as it is now).

    BTW, I thought the article was going to be the tax consequences of the tickets – as in ‘if you get tickets from your employer do you have to tell the IRS?’

  4. freeby50 says:

    If the guy wants 2 beers that seems fine to me. I assume the tickets are decent seats (and/or a good team), cause 1 seat in the nosebleeds can be cheaper than 2 beers in a stadium.

    I don’t think theres any generic ‘man rule’ that you owe a friend beers in exchange for free sporting tickets. However within any friendship you can always setup your own rules if you want. There should be some equitable exchange of stuff/monies between friends.

    Just because the tickets are free from work doesn’t mean they’re without value. Nothing is really ‘free’ when its from work. And your friends aren’t entitled to 50% of your fringe benefits.

  5. Yes, you should buy your friend a couple beers. No you should not expect it. If you don’t get the beer you still got a free ticket in the first place.

  6. JoeTaxpayer says:

    Interesting case of compartmentalizing. If I’m invited to an event, I don’t question the origin of the tickets. Whether the tix were bought full price, given to the friend, etc, really has no bearing on my experience. And yes, I’d buy a round or two and offer to pay for parking.

  7. Dennis says:

    I’ve been treated to several sports events by good friends and family. As a gesture of thanks, I offer to buy a beverage or food(sandwich) or pay parking. Even if the invitation is from someone who received these tickets for free; I feel an expression of thanks in a tangible is always necessary.

    The only exception to this is that these tickets are for a celebration specifically for you(ex. Birthday, Graduation, promotion, anniversary, date, etc.,etc.)

    Of course if you feel that you should not offer anything; then just stay home a let someone else enjoy what you so cheaply refused.

    The only positive way to not have to pay for anything is to tell the invitor up front, ” I really don’t have it in my budget this week to enjoy this event; however I would love to accompany you to this game!” The extended invitation is then clearly answered with information that “no expectations” can be realized.

    Personally, if your friends don’t enjoy the possibility of offering something tangible for tickets to an event; I suggest finding new friends.

  8. Laura says:

    Even better, offer to drive after buying said friend beers. Win-win for ticket giver.

  9. huskervball says:

    James is doomed to an unhappy life if he keeps carrying that chip on his shoulder.

  10. admiral58 says:

    If someone brought me to a game with some good seats, I’d certainly pay for parking and some concession food. It’s the least I can do for having me at the game.

  11. jim says:

    I don’t know why this article was even written. When someone does you a favor, you should always return the favor. It is the most basic of manners. No one should expect anything. The fact that this even had to be discussed means our country is in worse shape than I thought.

  12. If you get the tickets for free I don’t think anything should be expected in return. I’ve received free tickets to baseball games in the past and the people I invite are invited because I want them to spend time with me and enjoy the game. Not based on who I think will ‘repay’ me with food and/or drink. For me it is my gift to them so we can both enjoy going to the game and feel a little better about buying the $7 beers because neither of us had to purchase the tickets.

  13. Shirley says:

    Paying for parking and a beer is a thank-you for the gift of the ticket but it definitely cannot be expected. However, those who do not thank a gift-giver may not be gifted again.
    ;-)

  14. I agree with you. When you give something, do not expect anything in return; otherwise, you will get disappointed big time. If you receive a “thank you gift”, you are lucky.

  15. admiral58 says:

    I might casually say something like ‘you pay for parking and a beer, and we’re even’ Most of my friends know to repay

  16. Shafi says:

    You don’t expect something in return but common courtesy is that your friend should buy some refreshments. I am against drinking beer in ball games.

  17. Yes, I totally agree. When you give something to your friend, never really expect anything in return.

  18. Dave says:

    I think you should buy a round of beers for your friends, even if you bought your own ticket…

  19. jsbrendog says:

    if you got the tickets for free then maybe a singular beer just to say thanks for bringing me instead of someone else.

    being someone who ends up buying 2 tickets to things and very rarely finds people willing to pay for them I at least expect them to show some gratitude. Almost like when on a date, i don’t expect the girl to pay for her share but at least pretend, or offer to and when i decline say thank you.

    Same goes with friends. If there is a plan in place before getting the tickets then you should be paid in full. If I get tickets for June and ask you in April if you want to go I expect to get paid and that nullifies any beer payment. If I ask you to go the week/day of then I probably don’t expect you to give me anything but a beer would be nice. A lot of the time I’ll decline anyway but the offer. Come on, I’m doing something for you for free because I feel your being there would enhance my experience. At least acknowledge it in some way.

  20. KingsandDodgerfan says:

    I have taken a friend for years to baseball games ,hockey games and I never expected anything but the friend never once has even offered to buy me a hot dog in the 20+ games I have taken her to.The last game I invited her to she complained about the ballpark renovations,the hard seats,flat soda etc…I have had it and won’t invite this friend to a game again and in fact don’t even care to call and haven’t since that game.It’s just basic manners.

  21. I think it’s common courtesy to buy a friend a drink or pay for parking. Having said that, I wouldn’t hold anything against the person if I got nothing in return. We are friends after all.


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