|Sporting event or game show?|
By Tim Keown
Page 2 columnist
Here's a perfect example of the increasing meaninglessness of the professional sports experience:
At the end of the Timberwolves-Kings game last week, Sac's Brad Miller dropped in an uncontested shot with 1.7 seconds left in overtime. The Timberwolves had already won, they weren't guarding the guy, and just about everybody in the building was grabbing a jacket and swearing into the beer-soaked floor. The Kings' home-court winning streak was over. Latrell Sprewell had been out-of-his-mind good. Miller's shot made it a three-point loss. People were pissed. The shot meant nothing.
And yet ...
Where did that come from? What the hell? It might as well have been a police siren for how out of place it was.
But one of his guys had made a shot, and it's the PA announcer's job to let 'em know, to whip those fans into a frothy-jowled frenzy with his renowned rendition of that wonderfully melodious name: Brad Miller.
Forget the game. Forget the fact that the people he was trying to impress didn't give a damn. Forget everything about the rhythm of athletic competitions, baby, because any time is a good time to scream.
In this day of smoke machines and laser-light shows and dancing cows, fans have been "entertained" into submission. You don't own the experience anymore; it's simply thrust upon you. Good luck trying to roll with the ebb and flow of a game.
If your team calls a timeout after the opposition runs off 10 straight points, don't hang your head because ...
... it's time to dance!
If your team scores 10 straight and the other team calls timeout, you can't turn to the guy next to you and talk about it because ...
... you might get hit by a flying T-shirt!
I had a marketing man tell me once that ticket prices are so high teams can't justify giving their fans only a game. There has to be more than a game, and someone decided long ago that more than a game means a complete assault on the senses.
It's a pity, too, because there are still times when watching the game is the only reason we're there.
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Tim Keown is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.