I wonder what sporting events were like before all of the hoopla. I ponder this because last night, my older sons and I took a bus trip into Boston to the see the red-hot Celtics take on the emerging Atlanta Hawks. It was the first professional basketball game for all three of us and a Christmas present that caused the most excitement in our house that December morning. So they have been waiting for a few months now to see Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and company hit the floor and shoot some hoops.
The hoopla I refer to included a bevy of scantily clad Boston Celtics Dancers, t-shirt rocket launchers, little parachute gifts falling from the rafters, contestant shoot-arounds during many of the breaks and the zooming in on the crowd by the camera operators of the Jumbotron. We never got our mugs on camera but we had a great time staring at others caught in the act of, well, sitting there in the stands. The game itself was center-stage, but not all of the time.
All of that is fine. Sports have become entertainment and given the cost of tickets, I guess we expect to be enthralled at events. My sons and I had a blast. What does kind of bother me, though, is the huge Jumbtron hanging from the ceiling. We had seats that were pretty high up and it felt as if the huge screens were directly in front of our faces. What concerns me is that I felt myself drifting from the actual game to staring straight at the video screens, showing the same action as on the floor. This happened to me at a recent Bruce Springsteen concert, too. I kept catching myself watching the massive TV on steriods instead of watching the real thing. It acts like a vacuum cleaner, sucking me into its screen (and then plastering me with the advertisements).
My boys were oblivious to this conundrum, and they easily moved their gaze back and forth between the live action and the digital representation. I, however, felt the whiplash of my attention, even as I gazed at the close-up of Kevin Garnett spinning, turning and dunking in the open lane.
Peace (in field trips),