Daily News sports editor, Phil Croucher, wrote a nice column today in which he calls the naysayers to task and laments the lack of support for the Rainmen.
I agree with much of what he has to say. I do think that the ABA is a sketchy league, but the reality is that every single Rainmen game I have seen has been fun, entertaining, and has been high quality basketball. The amount of internet shit-talk that people throw on the Daily News comments section of Rainmen articles is astounding, and it clearly comes from people who have never been to games. Anyone can google search ABA and find out about folding teams and Joe doing something crazy like getting involved in a pyramid scheme travel agency (hell, that’s what I do for 15 minutes a day), but until you actually show up for a game, shut the hell up.
Part of the problem with the internet, message boards, and blogs (and for major league sports 24/7 cable coverage and talk radio) is that we stop talking and thinking about what happens on the field/court/ice and pay attention to ticket sales, marketing plans and league policy. Part of the fun of sports is the peripheral stuff, but the core of it is still the sport itself. And that’s why I go out and support the Rainmen – because I like watching basketball, I like cheering on the home team and heckling the visiting team, and I like spending a night out with my friends. I like cheering for guys who left their jobs and families in the States to live in Bedford, travel in vans and the back of planes and get paid $5 000 -$10 000 a year to do it.
Halifax has a bizarre inferiority complex combined with a sense of entitlemet. We refuse to admit that we are not Toronto/Montreal/Vancouver. We complain about everything which is not the best of its kind. We support the Mooseheads because it is the best junior hockey in the world, but we don’t bother going out to see minor pro teams. And god knows we’d sell out the Metro Centre with an NHL team. We complain about not having X store or Y store but we lose great independent clothing stores downtown because not enough people shop there. We complain about not getting cool bands, but unless you’re “in the know” you just ignore the Halifax Pop Explosion because those bands won’t be average college kid level cool for 12 more months. We’d buy tickets if we had an NBA, but we won’t support an ABA team. If we don’t support the minor leagues we will never get the big leagues. And in a lot of ways Halifax is better off with the minor leagues. I like being able to tell Kadiri Richard that he played great defense and that I liked his hustle. I like being able to get season tickets 20 feet from the court for $200. I like cheering for players who are sacrificing everything to play infront of a few thousand people in a provincial backwater. And I like cheering for a team that I consider to be my team, no matter how screwed up the league is, or how cynical anonymous internet shit talkers are.
I don’t expect “sports” fans to come out to games any more than I expect “music” fans to go out and see the Rolling Stones or Celine Dion. But I do expect basketball fans to come out and support the team before passing judgement. And I do expect the Wiggington-Downey fans to come out to more than just the home opener. And I do expect people that can spend an hour a day looking for ABA gossip to repost on the comments section of the Daily News website to get off their asses, dig some change out of their couch and go and watch what it is that they’re so damn critical of.
edit: I love it when the Daily News deletes any reference I make to this blog in their comments section. It makes no sense considering the fact that I link to virtually every Rainmen story on their website.