Are sports actually boring? I’m asking a serious question. Since the restart of sports, I just can’t feel the hype for a game like I used to. The Tigers got off to a hot start, and I was happy but not how I’d normally be. I watched Zion vs Ja last night on ESPN, I still loved their athleticism but I didn’t jump out of my seat like I used to. I started to ask myself, why?
We Need the Fans
The only thing I can point to, is the one major aspect that is missing, THE FANS! We’re all humans, we feed off each other’s energy. Watching 10 dudes play basketball in an empty gym just doesn’t cut it. I feel like I’m watching a glorified rec league team. (I’m not talking about talent, I’m talking about vibe.) Think about it, what winning team has played in front of an empty arena ever? Now think of all the horrible teams in your life. One constant is no fans! (There are exceptions to this rule. Look at the Detroit Lions, they have played in front of a packed house my whole life and still sucked, but that’s besides the point.)
I love going to, and watching home games when the team gets on a run. Fans are going wild, random high fives, hugs, and cheers. When a player gives all out effort and flies into the stands. Popcorn goes flying. The rich guy in the front row has beer all over him. The player helps them up, they share a moment. The Lambeau leap. To be able to catch your favorite player after they score a touchdown on a pass thrown by Aaron Rodgers! When Miguel Cabreara talks to the fan in the on deck circle. Those are the moments that make sports.
The 04′ Detroit Pistons
I can remember 2004 when the Detroit Pistons were on their magical run to a Championship. Sitting in the stands for those playoff games. The lights dim. Kid Rock comes on the sound system. “It’s Time….” Billups wraps up the video with taking a sledgehammer to the opponents logo. Then…BOOOOOM! Pyro and explosions. You could feel the heat on your face. If it was your first time, you just woke up! All the fans around you are buzzing. The tip off is coming and you knew no team had a chance at the Palace.
Intro videos still happen, but no one is around to cheer for it. The players are still getting their names announced but it feels like we’re watching a simulation. They still could use pyro, but why? Half court shots get hit, but silence… Fake fans in the stands. Fake cheers on the loudspeaker. Just fake energy. An energy I can feel sitting on my couch.
What made these moments special? The answer to me is clear. The fans. The players are a big part of your experience at or watching a game. But it’s the fans that make it something special. The community and common bond of rooting for your team. Or watching your team on the road battle the “12th Man”. What is “home court advantage” if there is no longer a home court? If the only thing that separates one court from another is just a logo, home court advantage does not exist.
I hope soon we can all go back to normal. So we can have those moments where we are hugging stagers in excitement. Not only for us, the fans, but the players too. Until then, I will watch the games. I will try to build energy. But one man can not do what 20,000 can. Those moments are what sports are. A reason to take pride in your city. For that moment when 20,000 celebrate as one, we are as close to perfect humans as you can get. I miss sports.