Monday , Nov , 03 , 2008 C.Y. Ellis

It’s All Fun and Games Until…It’s Pretty Much Just All Fun and Games

It's All Fun and Games Until...It's Pretty Much Just All Fun and Games
Usually, when most persons go to work (myself included – sometimes), there is a bit of a morning ritual.  Check the mail (electronic or otherwise), sip some coffee, check the calendar, go over your “to-do” list and be otherwise unproductive for a few minutes.  Even more so on a Monday morning.

I’m easing into this NBA season.  The Association has made it easy to do so.  There was a Lakers-Celtics Final and the promise of another one.  There was little to no off-season excitement.  Although, there might have been if Beasley did not think quickly and hide in the hotel closet.  With the notable exception of the Pistons, most teams seemed to improve their line-ups.  

Wait for it … AI to Detroit?  Better late than never.  At least they waited a few games into the season.  No real excitement until after starting your second cup of coffee.

How exciting does it need to be, anyway?  I mean, basketball fans – true basketball fans – love the purity of the game, right?  If one does not enjoy the game for its beauty, then do not try to pander to them at the expense of the true fans.  

Personally, I love all the free crap at the games.  I often make sure I show up at the games that promise to have good giveaways.  Also, who couldn’t use a free t-shirt?  Now, you may be above acting like a fool for one – that I can understand, but don’t act so elitist.  If it fell in your lap, you’d take it.

What about all the false enthusiasm created by the jumbotron?  Sometimes it is needed.  Usually it is not, but sometimes.  

The in-game entertainment is a necessity.  With all the time-out stoppages, I need something to do.  I’d much rather watch bald, fat men embarrass themselves trying to dance than do nothing.  

Before I go further, I would like to lodge a complaint.  This year, after a win, they’re handing out coupons for iced coffee at McDonald’s.  For as long as I can remember, it has been a coupon for free french fries.  I prefer the fries.  With the value menu and free fries, I can take the kids to McDonald’s and have them play and eat lunch for a couple bucks while killing a few hours.  They love the Happy Meal, the playground, the whole thing, and I get to eat cheap.  Iced Coffee?  Why do I need that?

Every now and again, someone writes an article or speaks out against all the pumped-in noise and false enthusiasm at basketball games.  “Back in my day, this is how we did it” blah, blah, blah.  David Stern fined the Hornets for a time-out miscue and complained on television during the Cleveland-Boston series.

Music can be exciting and emotive.  Everyone has a good “workout song” they like to play before hitting the gym or while jogging the track.  Players use music and noise and excitement to get hyped up before the games, so why can’t the fans?  Attention can lag and enthusiasm can wane.  Players need coaches to keep them focused, so why shouldn’t fans have someone on the microphone?

I still have the t-shirt I caught at a game four years ago.  When I put it on, I still remember the game, the excitement of the game (it was a playoff overtime game) and other good memories of that arena.  My free key-chain reminds me of the first time I took my son to a game.  
My son, by the way, loves the music, the video graphics and the fan contests during timeouts.  I can’t expect him to sit still for 2-plus hours, so I appreciate the distractions.  He loves going to the games.  At our first game of this season, he started asking questions and understanding what was going on during the game.  He’ll phase out of needing the distractions, but he will always remember them and enjoy them.  He’ll have good memories of the games without even knowing why.
Whenever you can get 15,000-plus citizens in the same building for an extended period of time without a riot erupting, you have done a good thing – a good thing for the community, a good thing for the families there and a good thing for the fans.  Everyone loves to go.  Everyone appreciates getting a ticket.  

None of the hullabaloo will ever detract from the game.  If you don’t like the distractions, don’t be distracted.  Pay attention to the ball.  If someone else’s mind wanders, that is his loss.  The fans that don’t like that stuff, will not like it, but if they leave their fandom because of it they were never true fans.  The other that like it will be drawn to the game, and will take from it that which they want and need.  If you are a true fan, do not deprive the un-educated masses of the potential love for the sport just because you do not like the package that give it the appeal to the masses.