Fans yearn to be like athletes. That’s why they love sports. Sports are a window into an alternate dimension, an alternate life.
Yet, few consider their own day-to-day experiences to be similar to anything in the world of sports?
But are they?
I started pondering this question on my recent Delta Airlines flight to Los Angeles, which reminded me of an Oakland Athletics off-season. Delta, in its efforts to avoid following most major airlines on their exploratory road to bankruptcy, now charges for absolutely everything on flights. In-flight entertainment episodes: $2. Snack box: $5. Little bottle of alcohol: $7? Is the bathroom next?
Similarly, the Oakland A’s weigh each expenditure the way Delta weighs each amenity: can it bring immediate profitability? Each acquisition has to project to contribute more than enough to the team to off-set the individual cost; there is no projection of impact on the “whole experience,” like the Washington National’s justification of the Jayson Werth signing in 2010. Old shortstop Stephen Drew? Not worth the price. New shortstop Hideki Nakajima? 75% of the performance for 30% of the cash – worth the price.
Perhaps it’s a longshot analogy, yet it got me thinking.
Every day, heading to work, I arrive in Pennsylvania Station in New York, just under Madison Square Garden. Each morning I see the Garden – or the pipes underneath it at least – but I rarely enjoy a real game in basketball’s most prized arena. Is there anything in my life similar to it?
Perhaps. Going to a 2012 Knicks game is like eating at a fancy New York restaurant that you expect to be good but overhyped and overpriced – then realizing it was totally worth it.
The Knicks were expected to be a mediocre, playoff-level squad after they let electrifying young star Jeremy Lin go and signed Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby, and Rasheed Wallace, whose combined ages date to the Civil War. Yet, the Knicks’ impressive defense, which is built off last season’s second half momentum, has created a real contender and the in-person experience justifies the hype. In person, you marvel at one of the world’s wonders – Carmelo Anthony playing actual, real defense, and lean back to enjoy yourself. Signing the check – or entering the credit card info on StubHub – may be painful, but you leave feeling like you got your money’s worth.
So, which of your day-to-day experience feels like sports come to life?
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