Attending sporting events are a time-honored tradition in our culture, or in most cultures for that matter. Some people spend their entire lives as fans of a sport and never attend a game in person.
I’ve been a football fan since I was eight and didn’t attend my first game until I was 22. It’s a special experience to attend a live game. When you buy that ticket for your sport of choice, what exactly, if anything, are you entitled to other than watching a contest?
The San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat faced off last week under odd circumstances. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich sent four starters home before the game to rest them. Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker were among the players.
The NBA brass threw a fit, as well as a $250k fine, because they feel the fans were cheated and subjected to a team not giving its best effort to win. Translation: 3 of the NBA’s biggest names were not on the court during a nationally-televised game, the “bread-and-butter” of TV revenue.
Let’s say for a minute this truly was about the fans. Do fans have a right to be angry? If you’re a Spurs fan, the Spurs still played. If you like Miami, this should be a non-issue. There’s a fine line on what you are entitled to as a ticket buyer. While the ticket merely allows you admission to a specific contest, we continue to buy more tickets because we like some team or some player.
As fans, we cheer our team because we want them to win. Why? Ultimately, we want them to keep winning and become a champion. Having said that, can Popovich be blamed for preparing his team for a grueling season to come? It’s simply a means to an end.
The NBA is dead wrong for this penalty and they know it, starting with the scheduling of four road games in five nights. Players are hurt all the time. This would be no different from a late scratch before tip-off due to injury.
So to any fans who are supposedly upset that they didn’t get to see the players they paid to see, let me know if you’re still pissed when Tim Duncan is averaging 18/10 on fresh legs in the playoffs. Sometimes even the fans have to sacrifice to win it all.