My only real memories of basketball are when they used to get thrown at my head in Grade 8 Gym class (I recall this also happened in Grade 9). I can easily, without trepidation exclaim that I am not a basketball fan. I have never watched a game on purpose. My father took me to a few games when I was in high school. The first experience was in a box where I spent my time eating from the buffet and watching the Food Network on the television behind the bar.
My second experience was close to the court just beside the entrance where the cheerleaders pounced out with their pompoms. On both occasions I was distracted from the actual game.
While I’m not a sports fan, I was looking forward to critiquing the ACC’s food and drink and indulging in seats that read: $2,629 each. The value of both tickets was the equivalent of six of my monthly rental payments! It was actually fun to tell a few friends (and strangers) that I had these tickets and wasn’t even a fan. I got an indescribable amount of pleasure watching the facial expressions of die hard basketball fans squirm once they knew I wasn’t even aware of the differences between basketball and volleyball (apparently they both feature netting and a point system). I’d say, “it’s so nice to have tickets for seat 5 and 6 on the court but you know I’d have been just as happy to get tickets for the Mezzanine at War Horse.” Their eyes would bulge and their fingers would slowly clench into a fist.
So on Wednesday March 21st I met my father at the Air Canada Centre with one hand clutching our tickets and the other grasping a small can of pepper spray in my right hand pocket. We entered the Premium Seating area via Gate 2B and waited until they pulled back the black entry curtain at 6pm. Our seats were to the right of the sports commentators and press and to the left of the Raptors.
While the team was warming up my father and I stretched our legs in front of the court. I dodged a few balls that whipped into my knees. We scanned the menu and had our order taken from the comfort of our seats. We decided on the Signature Prime Rib Sandwich, Southern BBQ Hot Dog (served with pulled pork and creamy coleslaw) as well as two beers. I couldn’t help but laugh as the the premium beer they featured on tap was Rickard’s Red. The word premium has never been so poorly defined! I was just happy to be drinking something other than Coors Light. I also ordered a bag of Sweet Wally’s M and M Popcorn (covered in chocolate) this was the best decision of the evening.
It was “Canadian Forces Night,” so the ACC was a full of ladies and gentlemen decked out in their Service Uniforms. We actually sat beside the fellow who sang the national anthem.
Then the game started…I noticed that I was often on camera as the head coach was screaming the entire game directly in front of us. I decided to dance with my hands and feet while seated in order to see myself on the big screen. Hilariously, I had several friends text me saying, “I see you dancing on television.” I did my part to inspire the sports community via national television that evening.
I didn’t really watch the game per se. As all of you know I am more of an observer and documentarian.
Observations from $2,629 course side seats:
- The most attractive player was No 26 on the Chicago Bulls team. A bit of a stunner.
- Players lay on the court before the game starts to stretch with their sports therapist. They are often in kamasutra style questionable positions.
- Players glisten with sweat. This made me nauseous and am very happy I ate before the game started.
- When players are about to join the game they take their pants or tops and throw them on the side of the court. There is a girl responsible for following after them and collecting their dirty laundry. I think someone should tell them to pick up after themselves.
- The players have big feet (we all knew that) but most interesting was that the majority of them shave their legs.
- There is a boy responsible for mopping up the court after one of the players falls. I’m assuming his title is officially, “Sweat Mopper.” Brutal chore.
- Cheerleaders were wearing camouflage outfits throughout the evening. They thrust their arms into the air and pointed a lot. Their smiles seemed inauthentic and I felt a bit overwhelmed by their spurts of intense joy. Not once did they use pompom’s. Massive fail.
- A man in a green shirt sitting directly across the court from me had a baby strapped to his chest wearing ear muffs. Really?!
- Throughout the game several of the Raptors coaches stood in front of us screaming. I gesticulated and made faces every time I had the word “traveling” screamed in my ear.
Enjoying dinner on the court of a basketball game is a unique experience. It is not particularly a relaxing place to wind down after a long day at work. The food is overpriced and mediocre as one would expect. It is also challenging to hold a beer in one hand, sandwich in the other while doing your best to dodge basketballs as they launch at your knees. But… sometimes dinner is about the spectacle, now I just wish I had ordered nachos and cheese!