Parade Day

I don’t want to rain on their parade. Or maybe I do. I just can’t get caught up in the hysteria over the Toronto Raptors.

For non-basketball fans, the Raptors won the NBA championship last week, for the first time, and the victory parade is today. I’m assuming there is television coverage, but I won’t be watching.

As a teenager I went to a lot of high school basketball games – our school was a powerhouse and everyone caught he spirit. I used to watch Carleton University teams in the early seventies, before the became the dominant national force they are now. Once again, I liked the atmosphere of the games.

Somewhere along the line though, I lost interest. I haven’t watched a basketball game in years. I watched not a minute of the Raptors drive to the championship. No, wait, I did. A friend sent  me a video of the final shot of a game about a month ago, one where the ball bound on the rim four times before dropping through the hoop.

Years ago, I came to the realization that there is no reason to watch a basketball game. The outcome, at the pro level, seems to be always decided in the final minute of play. So why sit through a whole game? Why not just play the final minute instead?

Think of the possibilities. You could squeeze a season into a couple of weeks, have 15 or 20 games a night, or more, in the same location. There would be the same amount of suspense, and might might be a lot more fun to watch. Might be a few more upsets too – a lot can happen in sixty seconds. I think that would make the game more appealing.

As things stand now, I think of pro basketball as being especially boring. Used to be Torontonians felt the same way, though they would probably deny it now that the Raptors are champions.

It isn’t that long ago though that the Raptors couldn’t give tickets away. Sales were so few that management had a bright idea. The team is owned by the same company that owns the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team. Tickets to Leafs games are practically impossible to purchase. The waiting list for season tickets is decades long.

When the Raptors were having difficulties attracting crowds the bosses came up with a sure-fire money maker. Those buying Toronto Maple Leafs season tickets were required to also buy Raptors season tickets as part of their package.

I don’t know if that applied to long-standing season ticket holders or just new ones, but if people wanted to see the Leafs play, then basketball came with the hockey. I don’t know if that actually improved attendance at basketball games (just because you have a ticket doesn’t mean you have to use it), but it did help the team’s bottom line.

So take it with a grain of salt when commentators talk about Toronto’s long love affair with the Raptors, and people’s delight at the championship. It isn’t a long-standing thing. If the team loses a star player or two and becomes mediocre again, most of the people lining today’s parade route will forget all about basketball. It isn’t hockey. It isn’t burned into their consciousness.

Looking at the weather forecast though, it looks like the  only rain on the parade will be my comments.

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