Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Work of Athletics in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

The good Dr.’s last post, coupled with my attendance at the Wizards-Pistons game last Saturday, has gotten me thinking about spectatorship.

The first half was high-scoring and competitive (thanks largely to The Black President), the cheerleaders were more bare than not, an amateur Jumbotron star collided scrotum-first with a railing, and yet the rest of us seemed drowsy and disinterested as if from overeating. Meanwhile, far below us, the season-ticket and corporate strata of the “sell-out” crowd were thinned by the holiday weekend.

Part of the lethargy of regular-season professional indoor major sporting events is proximity. Like it's impossible to board a plane and not think at least once about a terrorist hijacking, it’s impossible to watch an NBA game from the upper deck and not think to oneself, I’d have a better view if I were home watching the action on television. The 400 level at an NBA game isn’t like baseball bleachers; these people aren’t out to drink, tan, and bellow. There’s no pride in sitting in Section 403. We squinted down at the show, out of range of the cameras and t-shirt cannons. We found it difficult to appreciate the authenticity of the moment.

In fact, even as I mumbled Flip Murray analysis to my sister, I felt more have-not at that game than I have in a while. At least on an airplane I know most of the rest of the plane is taken up by coach-class schlubs like myself. At least in my five-year-old sedan sometimes I make the light and the Jag doesn’t. Sitting in 403 is like going to a fancy restaurant when you know you’ll have to order pasta marinara and ice water.

Not so, I’d guess, at the cyclo-cross race. David Stern’s pro product bummed me out in a way cold mud and BYOB never could. Plus, there’s a chance to see your friend lose to a nine-year-old.

(On the other hand, if Anson got to see Predators and Wings, I think he enjoyed it no matter where he was sitting.)


Janet said...

btw, my friend is a cheerleader for the Wizards

Anson Mountain said...

In my opinion, NBA games are the worst pro sporting events to attend. The players seem to know that the regular season is of little importance and even their off the backboard tomahawk dunks seem done only to pass the time. The venue itself is uninspiring. Baseball has the stadium, unique and majestic and giving strange edges to different talents. Hockey has ice. For chrissakes, they are skating on ice. (For this reason, I also enjoy figure skating more than the NBA games I've attended). Football has a giant, sprawling playing field with unpredictable weather. Basketball has a squeaky hardwood floor. And the score after score after score makes you less likely to stand and cheer (standing and cheering being my favorite things to do at sporting events) for each bucket, as opposed to hockey, football, baseball, soccer, boxing, ultimate fighting, where the big events are sporadic, sometimes not happening, always of importance.

Anson Mountain said...

In addition, football, because my eyesight is poor and perhaps there are just too many people on the field for me to accurately watch the play unfold, is also a problem for me. I once stood and jumped up and down for what seemed to be breakaway touchdown run by Eddie George at a Titans-Jaguars game, when it was actually Derrick Mason running a standard route in what turned out to be an incomplete pass to the Frank Wychek. After that, I became tentative in my standing and cheering, which is death for the casual sports fan.

Hockey, on the other hand, has provided me with the greatest stand and cheer moment. The ECHL Nashville Knights were in overtime when Brock Kelly scored the winning goal, which caused me to stand and cheer while also holding a blue raspberry sno-cone, sending the sno-cone onto the hair and shirt of the woman in front of me. She spun around and, instead of screaming at me or getting her boyfriend to punch me in the face, gave me a high five to celebrate the goal and we all went home happy and she declined my parents offer to pay for the dry cleaning on her nice electric-blue-stained shirt

Musa D said...

I generally agree with Anson. However, I've been to one NBA playoff game, an elimination game for the home team (the Sixers) that went to overtime, and it was the second-most excited crowd I've ever been a part of. Only a Michigan-Notre Dame game was crazier.

Anyway, that game made it clear that those guys (in this case, Iverson and Billups in patricular) can play harder and better.