The Wimbledon Queue and the defence of ‘Tradition’

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It’s about keeping up the traditions – grass courts and white tennis clothing, we could sell all the tickets online but doing that would take away a lot of the charm. People are determined to watch Lleyton Hewitt playing on the first Tuesday and they queue to get in.” – The words of All England Lawn Tennis Club chairman Philip Brook in a recent Telegraph article.

The Queue is almost mythical these days and seen as part of the Wimbledon experience but in 2015 there is no reason for it to still exist unless you want to remain stuck in the past, as clearly Wimbledon do. Queuing for tickets to sporting, music or any other events is an outdated process and should be only used if there are unsold tickets.

One of the many defences for the queue is that it allows ANYONE to have a chance of getting the 500 tickets available on each of the three main show courts but in reality you still have a major advantage if you are based in London, young, healthy and not a parent. The excellent @ViewFromTheQ (a must follow if you decide to brave The Queue) shows just how inconvenient queuing would be for anyone who isn’t in any of these categories. Monday’s queue hit 400 by 8am Sunday, over 1000 by 6pm and around 1400 by 10:30pm. Overnight camping for the elderly, disabled or with children is not going to be an enjoyable or comfortable thing for most in these categories.

It’s argued that the mark-up on tickets were they sold online would be bigger but given the extra expenses associated with needing to spend a day and a half in a field – be it camping equipment, prior hotels – there would appear to be very little difference overall.

If you do decide to brave the queue – well you best prepare to be sleep deprived or uncomfortably hot for most of the time. Temperatures are predicted in the high 30s throughout this week which is probably great once you are slightly covered by one of the courts but waiting around far less so. My one experience (and my last, until I have tickets in my hand way before the tournament is due to begin) was far from pleasant due to lack of sleep and hayfever and this was only for a ground pass!

Having to queue for a ground pass still sees you needing to turn up 2-3 hours before at the latest and possibly early on busy days. Is there any other event in the world where you need to queue up that long just to get in? Imagine if you could just purchase your tickets online like any other event you wish to attend – it would be far more pleasant. It’s just a shame that you can’t get that charming feeling of standing in a field all night or morning from ordering online through your laptop or PC.

It’s hard to see change coming any time soon though. After all, this is a tournament that got very upset when a seven time champion dared to show a bit of orange on the soles of his shoes. The only real valid argument for The Queue staying in this day and age is tradition – often the last defence for keeping things that are clearly outdated.

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