samedi 13 mars 2010

The model basketball fan

Certain things have to be done with certain people. I highly recommend going to see a basketball game with Ying Song. He is a PHD student at Lehigh University, and occasionally comes to tango classes. When he asked me if I wanted to see the Lehigh versus Lafayette basketball game, which was apparently a big deal, I thought "why not!" and since I knew Zach liked basketball, I extended the invitation. Flash forward to the three of us in Ying's car, going up the winding road to the Stabler arena. Ying: "Maybe I'll get out of control during the game. Excuse me in advance!"

Skip to the first half of the game: Lehigh is leading, but the Lafayette fans are making a lot more noise. I feel like being more overtly supportive, but not sure how to go about it. Ying also feels like there should be more heat among the Lehigh fans. Zach is very focused and still. One of Ying's friends, who has joined us, is interested but introverted. The game continues and gets more intense, with Lehigh in the lead, but closely followed by Lafayette. Basketball leads can easily be overturned, making the game fast-paced and very entertaining. First half ends, Ying leaves for a bit, comes back with hot dogs and mnm's for everyone : "That's what you do, you have to eat when watching a game!” I wholeheartedly agree with that. Hot dogs and live sports go hand in hand in the USA... might as well embrace it!

First part of the second half becomes more suspenseful. Lafayette climbs back up, with 50 points for them and 51 for Lehigh. Us Lehigh supporters are answering the call to be more vocal and supportive : Clap, clap, clapclapclap DEFENSE! clap, clap, clapclapclap DEFENSE! every time the ball is in Lafayette possession on their side of the court, and when Lehigh players are about to throw the ball, we put our hands up in the air, and stand up and cheer when the ball goes through the hoop.
Lehigh leading again, securing 5 points ahead on average.
And towards the last part of the second half, the Lehigh players find their groove, becoming more aggressive in their defense and creative in their offense. A few beautiful hoops, some spoiled Lafayette hoops, and Lehigh's score is soaring, as are its fans. Ying is in the zone, I am too, and the kid who's sitting next to me forgets to be cool and joins the shouting crowd. From the corner of my eye, I see Zach's arms go up with every point scored by Lehigh.

Last 5 seconds, 70 - 61 or something like that, ball in posession of a Lehigh player who just dribbles and stalls until he throws the ball in the air, signaling the end of playing time, and Lehigh's victory! This win allows them to play in the National College Athletic Association after having been out for 7 years! The fans swim onto the court. Ying leaves us to join the crowd. Visualize, if you will, this very tall guy clad with the Lehigh sweatpants and tee-shirt, with a huge grin on his face running to hug the players, or at least someone in the tight pack of people surrounding the players. This is what I call a hardcore happy fan! Zach and I are not hardcore, we stay put. But I enjoy watching the commotion, the movements. Lafayette fans quick to leave, Lehigh supporters eager to linger. We get to see the part that's usually cut when watching sports on TV : the joy of the players, the hugs the coach gives to everyone, and the loosing team in a corner, dismally watching the festivities.

The Lehigh mascot, a mountain hawk, is prancing about. No cheerleaders, because of spring break, but who cares at this point, since the home team won anyway. Next thing we know, Ying is outrageously posing with the Lehigh mascot for a picture. That's it, he is the perfect basketball game companion: enthusiastic, attentive to what's happening on the court, loving the atmosphere and wanting to share his love of the game with some nearly random people. I had just been thinking that day that everything could be done in an excellent manner. Ying is most definitely an excellent basketball fan.

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