How to Hack Sports Season Like A Pro

in Financial Planning by

From college teams to pro-sports, October reigns supreme as the month with the highest concentration of sporting events across the country. Whether you’re a die-hard season ticket holder, a sports bar regular, or an at-home fanatic, sports season is sacred, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t maximize every game day to its absolute fullest. And I’m not just talking about chowing down as many chili dogs and throwing back as many brews as possible — I’m talking about finding that easy hack that will save you some cash wherever you’re watching the games. If you can play it on a field, in a stadium, or on a court this season — it’s hackable… Here’s how:

1. The Box Office

There’s nothing like the deafening noise of a football stadium, the smell of sweat from sitting courtside at a basketball game, or the taste of cold beer from the stands at a baseball field. But how many times have you rushed to buy season tickets early only to realize you can actually only make it to ⅓ games this year?

THE HACK: Take advantage of the team. College and professional season tickets cost thousands of dollars, so before entering your credit card number the second season ticket packages go on sale, be realistic about how many you, your wife, your girlfriend, or your buddies can go to. Chances are, there are enough of you that it makes sense to go in on group tickets. Not everyone’s schedule allows them to go to every game, but by pooling your money for a row and reserving specific games you can actually attend, you get to go to the games you really want, when you want, for less money.

If you do decide to buy season tickets, make sure to set aside 30 minutes a month to post your tickets on secondary ticket-selling websites so you can earn cash from the games you aren’t able to actually attend. That’s not just a hack, that’s a side hustle.

2. The Stadium

What’s a football game without a tailgate? It’s Game Day done wrong is what it is. But it’s also a lot of work to organize one yourself – so we suggest you don’t.

THE HACK: Work your network. You’re well connected, and chances are someone in your network also sports your team’s logo every game day. Maybe it’s your alumni group, a B-School buddy, or a friend from work, but undoubtedly someone you know is throwing a tailgate. For the cost of a great case of beer and maybe some killer guacamole, you can easily get invited to someone else’s pre-game party. No hosting hassles and no clean up, just getting to a good time more efficiently. Now that’s a game-day mindset.

3. The Gear

Sometimes it’s time for new gear for no other reason than “Because, it’s my team”. But if you’re looking to freshen up your swag with the latest authentic designs, the best fits, or simply be the first in your crew to have that insulated and waterproof zip-up jacket – there are ways to do it faster, more efficiently, and for less money than waiting in line at your team’s official store.

THE HACK: Google it. Tons of online shops aggregate and sell authentic team paraphernalia, but even more get away with selling inauthentic swag at top dollar. Whether you’re looking for jerseys, cups, caps, things for your car, things for your girl, or things for your kids, all it takes is a few clicks.

Below are my top picks for team gear ranked on authenticity, design variety, product selection, and price:
Hanes Ink – Champion’s new sister brand specifically focused on college apparel at a great price point.
Finish Line – Wide selection of college and professional sports – good variety and fresh designs.
Fans Edge – Great selection of professional and college teams, you can find some good deals on apparel, but this is a great site if you want something other than clothes. Make sure to check the Sales section for hidden treasures!
FanAtics – The ultimate website if you’re shopping for your girlfriend/wife or family. Prices are decent but the sales are incredible — for example, $25 off an order of $50 including free shipping! Plus, great selection of NCAA, NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, even Nascar.
Eastbay – Extremely vast collection of well-organized gear from various sports and styles. Perfect place to pick up everything if you’re also shopping for your girl, your dad, or your kid.
Amazon – Has a surprisingly great selection of teams and very convenient if you are an avid Amazon shopper, but will require a bit more digging to find exactly what you’re looking for. Not great for picky shoppers.
Fan Gear – Great choice if you mostly follow national teams (NFL, NBA, MLB, soccer and other sports played in the UK) and want that authentic sticker on your cap. There is also gear for some college teams but not a wide selection.

More Pro Tips:
If you’re specifically looking for jerseys, try to focus on ones without names or at least have the names of iconic older players. Chances are younger players won’t stay with your team beyond a year or two and by sporting simply a number, your jersey’s life span lives on far longer than a single season.

A number of these websites also have student discounts — some even have military discounts and rewards programs available. It’s worth it to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page and glance at the company’s additional links and terms.

If you don’t have time to wait for delivery, check your local Target store on the way home from work. They make it a point to have local team jerseys and other gear (professional and sometimes college) for a steal.

4. The Home

If your Game Day style is watching from the comfort of your own home as you throw back beer with an array of snacks at your fingertips, rest assured, you can optimize it.

THE HACK: Get technical. Much like your local grocery store, your food delivery apps often promote “game day deals.” This is the perfect time to scout Uber Eats, Postmates, GrubHub, Instacart, whatever you’ve got. They basically make it impossible for you to miss said deals by blowing up your phone and email with notifications days in advance of your games, so don’t delete those promotional emails too fast. You’re welcome.

5. The Bar

The next best thing to attending a game or tailgate in person is displaying your fandom at the local team’s bar. If you’re fortunate, the owner will already set up game day deals for pitchers and plates. But if you live in an expensive city where a crowd is simply a reason to raise prices in a crowded bar, then that’s simply a challenge, or even an invitation to hack the system.

THE HACK: Get lucky. It’s easier to manufacture luck than you think. Sometimes all it takes to get a good deal is to ask, especially if you’re a regular or have just opened a large tab (don’t worry, you can ask your friends to split the bill later on Venmo — this is about building relationships). If that doesn’t work, try making a friendly bet with the table next to you or even the bartender to pick up the next round.

As The Buzzer Sounds

At the end of the day, sports are games — and it’s up to you to play them to your advantage. Now you can save time, get out of organizing or hosting a tailgate, get your team’s latest swag, and save money this season. Happy Hacking!

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Tamar Kuyumjian

Tamar Kuyumjian

Tamar Kuyumjian is the Content and Communications Manager at Personal Capital and has a background in personal finance.

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