Red Right 88

Cleveland sports fan and sports writer

Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

quit my job decided to drive west

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Sitting in the cheap seats

On Sunday, I found myself in the cheap seats for the Cavaliers game against the Clippers. Well, except they really weren’t that cheap, despite being a vertigo-inducing row from the top in the corner of the building.

Talk about information overload.

At any one time at The Q, you are bombarded by a half dozen corporate sponsors. There is a moving ad at the top of the scoreboard, another at the bottom and a few convienently placed in the middle. Not to mention the wrap around video boards constantly spewing even more ads.

And there is no rest at The Q, even during the time outs. Besides the Cavalier girls, the Cavaliers have not one but two in-arena hosts, a mascot, a DJ, the Cavs Crew, the Scream team, Cavs kids and the Cavalittles. Plus there are a plethora of contests all provided by generous corporation. Even the sweeper used to clean up the sweat from the floor has a huge logo on it.

Oh yeah, there was also a basketball game, one where the Cavs made 11 out of 13 3-pointers in the first quarter. The fans rewarded the players with a loud standing ovation at the end of the quarter that was almost as loud as one inspired by the free Chalupas earned in the fourth quarter.

It was easy to miss real live drama because after every play on the huge scoreboard a video clip from pop culture would play followed a replay. Which was nice because then you could watch another pop culture clip after which they would show the play you missed watching the previous replay. But in case you forget to watch the actual game, "The DIFF" allows you know who is winning.

And when I say there is a video clip after every play, I mean every play. Everything from Disney movies to Will Ferrell to quick snips from TV commercials which I am sure are just random and not meant to subtly make me hungry for a Big Mac.

Over the last few seasons, the Cavs have replaced all of the seats in the arena in stages. Not sure exactly when the process was completed but I was surprised by my seat after I caught my breath on the climb up. I hadn’t been in the rarified air since May 2007 for a Celtics playoff game. It looked comfy but it was anything but. I am not a tall person but I felt completely squeezed. Shoulder to shoulder with fellow fans, when the big television informed me LeBron dunked I really had no room to jump to my feet. By the time I unfolded even the replay was over. I am sure market research said cramming people into small confined places will induce them to get up to stretch their legs and pay $4 for bottled water or double that for a beer.

A visit to the Q is one big party of color and commerce. Capitalism at its finest.

And yet all of that cynicism gets somehow erased when LeBron breaks free and he rises up TO THROW THE HAMMER DOWN.

To be honest, being at the Q, especially if you don’t have the loan capability to afford seats close to action is not the best place to watch the game. You can see more on your high definition TV set at home. But there is nothing quite like being around 20,000 people doing a jig after a monster dunk or marveling at LeBron pulling up deeper and deeper and still finding the bottom of the net. Even to the point, LeBron heat checks to find out what won’t go in. Here let me run the other direction and despite their being 12 seconds left on the shot clock, lets turn and flick it towards the hoop. Swish.

I admit, the opening introductions have better production values than a Scorcese film. It is so over the top at the Q, I can’t help feeling like a little kid.

The game of basketball like every professional sport has evolved. It’s big business. It is choreographed. Fans seemed Pavloved into being told when to cheer, what to buy and even when to boo.

But beyond that, there is very good basketball team playing in the middle of that sizzle. A good team with a chance to be special, a type of team that doesn’t come along very often.

So don’t forget to watch.

Reprinted from Lorain Morning Journal