Our tickets for the Hawks-Warriors game were only—and I write this sarcastically—$30, so we were up high and at the end of the court. I was excited when we picked up the tickets because they said “Row 13.” I still have not figured out how there were 75 rows between the court and “Row 13.”
At halftime, the ushers gave the young people seated in front of me long white balloons—the kind people used to make balloon animals with–only now they are called “thunderstix.” The justification for the indefensible cruelty of giving the young people in front of me long white balloons was the questionable belief that waving these would distract the opposing team into poor shooting. I suppose the bizarre assumption was that a Golden State player would go to the free throw line and just as he was about to shoot think, “Those skinny white balloons are really neat. I’ve got to get one of those.” Thinking this would cause him to miss the free throw. This seems unlikely.
Wouldn’t it be better for fans to hold up signs that say, “Did you leave your oven on?” “Did you forget your mother’s birthday?” or “If free throws are free, then why are you making several million dollars for missing them?” These signs seem at least as distracting as balloons.
As far as I could tell I was the only person bothered by the ubiquitous inflatables. I kept thinking, “I paid $30 to watch a basketball game through a forest of long, white balloons. These balloons are not keeping the Golden State Warriors from seeing the goal. They are keeping me from seeing the Golden State Warriors.”
Realizing that balloons do not add to my enjoyment of basketball helped me recognize that there are other things that I do not need with my basketball game.
I do not need a dozen nineteen-year-old girls—the A-Town Dancers—in skimpy outfits shaking their backsides during timeouts.
I do not need nine-year-old girls (who I am sure think being an A-Town Dancer would be way cooler than being a professor) shaking what will one day be their backsides on the Jumbotron.
I do not need Harry the Hawk, who looks inexplicably like a rooster, shaking his backside, as he or she frequently did.
I do not need to watch guys older than me shoot basketballs at big buckets to win groceries. If they need groceries, they should not spend $30 to go to a game.
I do not need to hear who can scream the loudest to win a pizza.
I do not need Frisbees flying through the arena or T-shirts shot from cannons at unsuspecting members of the crowd.
I do not need Queen’s “We Will Rock You” at a volume to make my head ache or twinkling disco balls that make my head swim.
I really do not need the short white guys in sequined jump suits who use trampolines so that they can dunk during timeouts like the tall black guys who do not need trampolines do during the game.
Dr. Naismith would not recognize his game. It was enough to make Bobby Knight throw a chair. People who love basketball—the game itself—deserve better. If we are not careful, we fail to see what we came to see.
I realize that confessing my dislike for skinny white balloons, skinny energetic dance teams, and shiny jump suits makes me sound like a grumpy old man, but I think it has more to do with my inability to focus in the midst of a cacophony of glitter and rocket-propelled clothing. Some of us do better when we watch one thing at a time. We need to pay attention to catch what most deserves our attention.
This is a lifelong struggle. We have to learn to push aside the balloons, Frisbees, and dancing girls who are always trying to capture our interest in order to focus on what really matters. If we don’t, then we will miss the game.
Missing the Game
By Brett Younger