What does the world cost? Oh well, then we'll just take a small coke.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Screaming in the loot

The other day I attended the season home opener for my school's acclaimed Division I men's basketball team. If you've followed FCN for a while, you may recall that I am one of the most vocal and aggressive fans a team could ever dream of. For me, a team's success is personal; a victory for the boys on the court is an inspiration for the rest of week, a boost better than caffeine and taurine and a loss is an equally effective depressant. In fact, I've been able correlate bad moods to my team's poor performances and some people may even be able to use competitive performance as a predictive barometer of humor.

For all the readers that I didn't lose with two dollar phrases like "competitive performance" and "predictive barometer," the implication of my approach to watching sports is that I do everything in my power to see the team I'm rooting for win. Everything, that is, short of donating money to BALCO laboratories.

It's often said that the "sixth man" in sports is the home crowd. We may look weekend warriors, sitting in the stands like so many Monday morning quarterbacks, chugging down calorie laden drinks and life shortening snacks, but actually lusty cheers are a motivating force for the team. At least that's what we'd like to think. It's also what the media, sports leagues and colleges want us to think, but that's beside the point.

In an effort to encourage louder cheering, many organizations will throw "goodies" like shirts, commemorative balls and coupons into the stands, creating an entertaining frenzy among the audience as we struggle amongst ourselves like poorly raised children for possession. Generally, the louder you cheer, the more goodies get thrown your way, meaning that those who have been naturally blessed with loud voices run away with the most loot.

I scream loudly. That is, I do my vocal best to see my team to victory. I shout so loudly, in fact, that a friend who was listening to one of my team's games on the radio heard my voice and recognized it as mine. I use a handful of prepared taunts, print out the visiting team's roster so I can shout player's first names and join in with the cheerleaders on all their routines.

And my efforts are normally generously rewarded. For instance, I caught a couple of shirts, a few coupons and trinkets and an occasional free hot dog last season. I never got a chance to really dominate with my catches because of the enthusiastic gyrations of my good friend Nick, who always sat next to me and made like Champ Bailey or Asante Samuel as he did his best to disrupt my flow. That's right, Nick was throwing off my groove.

Well, now Nick is in Virginia studying his happy hands off and I got my first chance to make a grab at goody history at the season opener.

I was terribly disappointed when I heard from my inside man (a friend who is employed by the team's "Loud Squad") that no T-shirts would be handed out because of a miscommunication with the textile supplier. Despite the lack of supply, I managed to pull down the following (itemized with estimated resale value):

In N' Out Burger coupons ($2 value) x3 = $6.

PomPom ($3 value) x 1 = $3.

Balloons imprinted with the team logo ($.50 value) x 2 = $1.

Team bumpersticker ($.50 value) x 1 = $.50

Media guide to the conference's athletics ($5 value) x 1 = $5

That's eight items worth an estimated $15.50. And, as a student, game admission was free. Over the course of a two hour game, I got paid better than minimum wage to watch my favorite team sport.

And that's not counting the hot dog that my friend Ally swiped away from me at the last second (sitting where Nick normally would) and the Frisbee that buzzed just over my outstretched arm in the middle of a full leap (it landed three rows above me).

But I'm not writing this post just to brag; of course, that's a solid justification, but I have other, more altruistic reasons, too. I am writing to share a few of my hoarse secrets to other fans. Follow my directions and you may find yourself rolling in the the loot:

1) Sit 5-15 rows from the court. Positioning is key. Objects are generally thrown with little more than arm technology. Sure, air compressors are sometimes used to allow the compliments to reach the rafters, but a good 80-90% of all tosses are made from the court to the rows indicated above. Don't sit too close to the court or you'll be overthrown.

2) Befriend. I learned this tip from the New England Patriots. The best way to win is to bend the rules a little. If you see an employee marching around before the game, introduce yourself and ask to be helped out. Say you are trying to impress your girlfriend or that you'll split the pizza with him later. To the girls: A megawatt smile won't hurt your chances.

3) Scream your head off. Nobody ever caught anything by staying silent (unless of course, we're talking about Nick, but most of his catches were on throws intended for me). The louder you get, the more your inside man will feel justified in throwing your way.

4) Takeaways from kindergarteners do count. I know some people think it looks bad to steal a commemorative goodie from a six-year old attending his first college game, but when we're talking about loot, "you gotta do whatcha gotta do." That six-year old is playing a man's game. Trust me, no one will remember the teary eyed face of the whippersnapper you ripped off. Your T-shirt count will live in infamy.

5) Be ready for anything. Sometimes a ball will be thrown several rows above you and then be deflected down. You need to always have your head in the game and be ready to handle whatever the other fans throw your way. Remember that a juggled catch may mean the difference between another T-shirt and, well, not another T-shirt.

That about covers it. Try it yourself at the next sporting event you attend. If you break my record, write us an email and tell us about your exploits. Be sure to include a picture of the loot and a medical report detailing the damage to your vocal cords. Extra points will be awarded for crying six-year olds.


Anonymous said...

How do you get from last Friday, November 9 to next Tuesday, November 20 when today is only Monday, November 12?

Mrs. L said...

Aahhh...the sports ethic - lie, steal, cheat - whatever it takes to win...or get more "stuff"

Ally Pie said...

The hot dog was good, but the pom pom was better...

Guitarbob said...

i love the "kill the little kid" tactic... works every time. Better tactic: bring a .50 cal, or RPG or something

Anonymouse said...

the ammo cost of one rocket out ways the other money gain and would also singe the "stuff". You also forgot to account for the tuition to be able to receive free tickets.