The Intelligent Fan: How to Enjoy the Coaches in the Stands

Drew BartonAnalyst IMarch 20, 2008

Joel Przybilla boxed out Shaquille O'Neal which allowed LaMarcus Aldridge to come off the weak side and snatch the rebound away from Martell Webster. He spun and found Steve Blake out by the three-point line. As he made the outlet pass the twenty-somethings in the row behind us were all on their feet yelling, "Push it! Push it! Run the break!"

Gazing at the court I could see why they that was a good idea. Four Phoenix Suns had already retreated down court to their defensive positions. Only O'Neal still lingered at the Suns offensive end. Meanwhile, three Blazers were below their defensive free throw line, Blake was inside the three point line and Brandon Roy had yet to cross mid-court. With a quick pass ahead Portland would be in great shape for a 1 on 4 fast break. Those normally end well...oh, not for the team trying them. They end well for the opposition. Clearly these loudmouths had not mastered Basketball 101 or, for that matter, basic arithmetic.

That is the dark side of season tickets. Scratch of the dark sides of attending all live sporting events is the attendee is regularly exposed to running commentary from a variety of self-described experts on the game. These experts often make comments like the scenario that opened the piece.

For those who have not followed Portland this season, the Blazers are many things: they are scrappy, overachieving, poor rebounding, and very much a half-court team. Scoring double digits in fast-break points happens about every four games. They score two in the first, none in the second, five in the third and hit a three in the fourth. Count them up, that is 10 points in four games.

Phoenix, meanwhile, consistently hits 10 fast break points in a quarter. For Portland to "push it" against the Suns means getting out of what they do well and leads to high turnover rates without scoring the corresponding points. One prime way of adding another turnover would be to run shorthanded fast breaks against a set defense. Yet these geniuses spent much of the game contributing their wisdom on how Portland should be trying 1 on 4 or 2 on 3 fast breaks.

Other pearls they dropped had to do with the players. Roy has been the heart and soul of the team all year. He regularly arrives in the 4th quarter having taken fewer than 10 shots...often fewer than 5...and with single digit point totals but with 3 or 4 rebounds, a half dozen assists, and a steal or 2. Then in the 4th quarter he tends to score a bit more, often checking in with double digits in close games. Since these season ticket holders have sat behind me they have seen the same games I have. Yet when Roy arrived at the 4th quarter with 6 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists they started a long line of conversation that included such gems as, "Sure would be nice if Brandon showed up tonight."

They also managed to bring up how they hoped the "worthless Przybilla...he can't score a in Minnesota next year. That would serve him right." Of course, what they miss is what Przybilla has provided all year...he is far and away the most effective Portland rebounder, his shot-blocking ability has changed games, and his willingness to do the dirty work of setting picks, rebounding, and playing defense without demanding the ball on offense has fit perfectly into the current incarnation of the Blazers.

 No doubt you have been subjected to such commentary as well. These self-important blow-hards spout off idiotic observation after idiotic observation that clearly demonstrates their lack of understanding of the game they are watching and are sure to be the loudest people in the section. They habitually drown out other fans and seem to believe that everyone wants to hear their opinion on what the team should be doing so they talk as loudly as humanly possible.

It is hardly confined to the basketball court, of course. When Grambling brought their marching band to Portland to play the Portland State University football team the game was played at Civic Stadium (now PGE Park). The field is laid over a baseball diamond. So in the middle of the football game we were treated to the couple behind us arguing over where left field laid...with one arguing for right field because, "I played baseball and bat left handed. It was behind me so that is left field."

No doubt you have experienced similar commentary at your chosen sporting event. Let me leave you with a closing thought. It is probably better to attend the event and be subjected to the idiots than to attend it and be the idiot yourself. Perhaps we fans should make a pact to keep our comments to a reasonable volume and stop dispensing our dubious wisdom to the poor folks with the misfortune to be sitting close to us. After all, there might be someone near enough to hear us who actually understands the game and realizes how ignorant of it we are...