I was going to call this blog "Someone Should Tell Adriana Lima We Have Naked Gameday At The Forum." Now of course I'm not ABOUT to write about something like that...that was merely a suggestion to Ms. Lima.
What I would like to talk about, is this debilitating, dangerous disease that seems to spread more and more the more games we lose. It is so debilitating, it makes our chart at the office look bad. You know, the chart that shows attendance, our arena noise...basically, the chart that shows how good our fans are...
No, not the FOXNews-esque doomsday delight Commercial Appeal! It's the fans!
"Wait...Zac, the fans are the problem??"
YES! The fans are the problem. However, the problem is two-fold.
Problem A is the people who come to the games who root for the other team. Nothing burns me up than seeing a yellow Lakers jersey, or someone whooping it up for Detroit, or shouting out to Melo and AI at the Forum. I wouldn't have a problem with Laker fans at the Forum if the Forum was the Great Western Forum and this was Showtime, but it isn't. We might be a crumbling industy sector and a largely minority-majority city, but we aren't in Detroit either. Our arena announcer doesn't have a stuttering problem. Lastly, do you see any mountains? This is not Denver either.
One of these is Memphis....and the other is not.
Most of this is said in jest. As an avid sports fan, nothing and let me REPEAT nothing really builds up a good game atmosphere than trash talk from fans of one team to the other. Of course, that's always best for the postseason, when the emotions are heightened. It just is an annoyance that a lot of fans especially at certain games aren't even at the Forum for the HOME TEAM...but the reason they stand out so much is because of problem B.
Problem B is the fans of the Grizzlies that we do have. There simply is not enough. When your arena looks like 9500 people showed up in plainclothes and the rest came disguised as empty blue chairs, even the loudest, truest Chris Farley Chicago Superfan-esque fan performance is not going to drown out the cheers from the fans that are there to support the other side. Where are the people? When I was writing for Nation of Grizzlam, I wrote a blog detailing why Memphis fans felt like they didn't get respect from the media and it dealt with SMS, or "Small Market Syndrome." While doing the research for said blog, I delivered statistics (begrudgingly, because I hate crunching any sort of numbers) of populations for every NBA market city and metropolitan area. Memphis was not even the smallest market, at roughly 1.25 million metro, adjusting for another year in census, not counting what I believe to be part of the metro area, DeSoto County. You mean to tell me that a little over 1 percent of that can't fill up a basketball stadium? Really? I know we are a college town, but face it folks, so is every other NBA market. This is the first REAL professional team this city has ever had. Noone had better comment about the MadDogs or Pharoahs, and no disrespect but the Riverkings and Redbirds are not major league caliber either. That alone should get fans in the seats. Be grateful to even have a team. I'm sure Seattle would love to have theirs back, and they had more fan support than we have had in our best year.
"Basketball games are too expensive to have as many as we do in a season. Most Memphians would be better suited for an NFL season. Expensive, but less games to go to."
Right. The Oilers sure got a lot of support while they were here. Of course, the excuse was that we knew they were leaving anyway, so why support them. It seems with a lot of people that they feel the same way about the Grizzlies. They'll leave, so why support them? That way, when they leave due to lack of support from fans like you, you will be right. Ah, sweet vindication. An NFL team in Memphis? If basketball (Professional basketball, in a self-professed "Basketball Town") can't be supported with 18,000 people, how do you tell me that 65,000+ would be? Maybe I should ask the Tigers how they like playing in front of a packed stadium for football games. Wait...
It's because they don't win right? The Golden Rule of Fandom. If they win, they will be loved and admired and paid attention to. You've got me there. The Grizzlies don't win. However, even when they did, they didn't win enough. So the support...went down the drain. Fans have every right to be dissapointed. Dissapointment is great! It means you have pride in your team and you want them to do well. I'd be more worried if people were indifferent, but people are dissapointed! Hooray! It means you care!
So why don't you care that your team, win or lose, looks pathetic when they play in front of an arena full of...empty chairs? It's silent when the home team scores at home and louder when the away team makes a basket? You want to root for the stars? Show up to the games, and be loud for your home team. Homecourt advantage = proven advantage. Build up the young guys' confidence, build up the win column. Make it look like a fun place to play and a fun place to go to. Word among fans will spread. Make it look like a loud and tough place to play, and word will spread around the L. Your team will be feared, and in free agency, dare I say revered. Players will want to come here. You will have built up your players into stars, and attract stars for you to clap for, if thats what it takes. Clap for Rudy. Clap for Mayo. Clap for Conley. Soon, who knows who you will be on your feet for in the starting lineups. Just make sure to keep the energy going, and drown out those people cheering for the other team...
Donations to the DOUCHE (Drown Out Ugly Crowd Heckling Experiment) can be made in payments of 5, 18, 37, 38, 40, 47, 48, 49, 62, 82, 99, 107, 150, 227, 307, 387, 546 & 667 dollars. All donations to DOUCHE should be made at the FedEx Forum box office on Gamedays.
Friday, September 26, 2008