Ticket sales for NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's speech next Wednesday have been as flat as a skyhooked brick. Although Connaissance organizers wouldn't say just how many tickets have been sold, judging from the lackluster lines and the extended sales period, Penn students just don't seem that interested.. The speech will take place at 8 p.m. in the 1,100-seat Irvine Auditorium, with Abdul-Jabbar recounting his experiences as an NBA center and social activist. "I expected there would be a lot of interest," Connaissance Co-Director Samantha Cohen said. "But [ticket sales] have been going slower for this speaker compared to the past." Indeed, tickets for the Penn Politically Incorrect program two weeks ago were gone within an hour on both days they were sold. Seats for former Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos' speech went equally fast last spring. And last fall, demand was so intense for former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Connaisance lecture that some students bought scalped tickets for as much as $75 a seat when an online distribution lottery left them empty-handed. This year, however, students seem a lot less enthusiastic about the choice of Abdul-Jabbar. And much of that sentiment is impacting sales. "I am not really interested in what a basketball player has to say," said Engineering sophomore Robert Battle, who is not planning to buy a ticket. "It's not a sport I'm interested and I don't know much about [Abdul-Jabbar's] social outlook." College sophomore Katherine Smith said she isn't planning to attend the speech either. "I don't know much about him," she said, "and I have a lot of work coming up." And many students said they just haven't heard about the event. Still, the tepid response so far doesn't faze Cohen, who attributes the low sales to lousy weather and the large number of Penn students leaving campus for the Jewish holidays. She thinks that students will find Abdul-Jabbar's experiences, both as a professional basketball player and as an social activist, appealing. And she said she hopes his appearance will create healthy campus discussion about diversity and minority issues. Past Connaissance speakers such as Gloria Steinhem and Ellen DeGeneres, have brought the issues of feminism and homosexuality to the center of campus dialogue. Regardless, Cohen vows that Connaissance will be stationed along Locust Walk again next week, giving students additional opportunities to purchase the $5 tickets. "We're going to sell tickets until they're sold out," she said.Comments powered by Disqus
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