Saturday, February 19, 2011

I just remembered why I hate All-Star weekend.

A couple of years ago, being the dork that I am, I wrote an email to the Celtics voicing my discontent in the cheerleaders (or Celtics dancers, whatever they want to call them) who had suddenly appeared on the parquet floor at the Garden. Red Auerbach was famously opposed to cheerleaders, because he said they detracted from the basketball game. He's right. They do. If you're at a game, you're supposed to be there to see the best of the best duke it out for forty eight minutes... Not to watch a squad of scantily clad, spray tanned, sub par dancers shaking it to cheesy music that's too loud (how old did I just sound? Oh jeez...). But seriously, the point of it all is to watch basketball. I want to know how cheerleaders, T-Shirt giveaways, jumbotrons and noise meters became intertwined in the experience of going to a basketball game. Going to an NBA game now a days is like going to the circus. When I go to see my high school play, the experience of being in a real gym, with one guy on a crappy microphone announcing the starting line ups, sitting in uncomfortable bleachers stuffed to the brim with excited on lookers, watching a game where guys aren't consumed by their own stat line, is a refreshing experience and feels much more authentic and satisfying.

If going to your run of the mill regular season NBA game is like going to the circus, All-Star weekend takes that and magnifies it times 100. It's not that I don't think the best of the best deserve recognition. These guys work incredibly hard and possess an amazing amount of talent, and for the amount of happiness and excitement I, along with millions of fans around the world derive from them, I'd say they certainly deserve recognition. I   I'm even willing to say that it's a fun idea, to have all of the best guys come together for one night and play against each other. The problem is that the actual playing of the game is at the bottom of the agenda. It's about press conferences, camera time, seeing and being seen, and flashy, selfish play. It's about artificially manufacturing TV friendly, 30 second clips that ESPN can flash on Sports Center, while the talking heads babble away mindlessly about everything except the game.

What's sad about it is that it's all unnecessary. The story lines are already there: we finally get the chance to get a glimpse of what it would be like if Miami's Big 3 played with a real point guard, in Derrick Rose, and for the first time since 1975, there are 4 Celtics on the team, to give a couple of examples. Frankly, I find the whole spectacle to be an insult to my intelligence. I'm an informed basketball enthusiast. All I need to be entertained, thrilled and moved is the game, and I know that there are hundreds of thousands of basketball fans around the country who echo these same sentiments.

P.S.- this does not mean I won't be watching the three-point contest. Excuse me- I mean the Footlocker three point contest. How could I forget the all important sponsor?  I didn't even touch on how it's all about money... That's a rant for another day.


  1. People who are actively against Cheerleaders always make me laugh. Most high school games have cheerleaders as well, so there goes that argument.

    Sub-par? The requirements at the celtics dancer tryout are a double piuroette, front leap, side leap, calypso jump, a front kick, and a side kick from second position, and that's just the technique requirement. Never mind the skills required to keep up with the choreography taught by some of the best choreographers in the country. There goes that argument.

    The whole point of the green team and the Celtics dancers are to provide entertainment when the players are OFF the court! How does that detract from the game at all? Go for a pee break if it bothers you.

    Many families go to sporting events with their kids, who have about a 2.5 second attention span and when the green team throws them a t-shirt it totally makes their day, and keeps them entertained during half time.

    The Celtics used to have a hip-hop dance troupe called "phunk phenomenon" that danced at half time before the official dancers came in. Were you writing letters to the Celtics about them too? I never heard anyone complain about them, so why do people complain about the Celtics dancers?

    So many people don't realize that the dancers also act as ambassadors to the team, when they are unable to make certain promotional and charity events, which is an important part of the marketing aspect. They work very hard to help market the team, in addition to taking part of all of the worthwhile charities and causes, and it means a lot to those organization to have the Celtics dancers reach out to them. So you and others who shoot off at the mouth about professional cheerleaders might want to take that into consideration.

    In regards to the All-Star game, I agree that many aspects are just flashy nonsense, but that's the way the sponsors want it. It seems lame, but it's their twisted way of trying to market the sport in general, and of course putting $$$ in their own pockets.

  2. I think the point that I was trying to make was that the whole ambience created in huge arenas is a distraction to a basketball purist. It was not my intention at all to attack the art of dance. It takes a special talent and tremendous physical strength. Thank you for reading and commenting!

  3. Haha I probably game off a bit too strong there! But I agree in the sense that I enjoy the basic straight up game playing myself, and eve though I do enjoy it, I don't really *need* the extra entertainment. But it entertains the kids and the casual fans, which ultimately brings more money, which ultimately helps the sport in general.

    It also makes the bathroom lines a little bit shorter, because if there were no half time entertainment EVERYONE would be at the bathroom during half time! :-O