For readers of this blog that may not know, for the past 6 NBA seasons, I have been a member of the Toronto Raptors Game Operations Department. Basically what that means is that I was there for a majority of Raptors home games at the Air Canada Centre, and assisted with promotions on court and around the building. No, I wasn’t the guy around the arena throwing the t-shirts to the fans, even though I did get to do that occasionally. I suppose my t-shirt throwing abilities weren’t up to par with everyone elses. I must say that my fellow co-workers did have cannons for arms though. They were much more suited for the role than me.
For most of the games, I was responsible for assisting with the on-court promotions and activities that took place during time-outs and halftime. No one watching the games on television got to see these skits, which is a shame because we had some really great ones with some memorable moments from Raptors fans. Before the players came out for their shoot-around prior to tip-off, I would go up and down the aisles looking for contestants or participants to take place in these on-court contests. Trust me, when I was looking for fans, I was looking for “specific” fans. I wanted to pick those people who I believed would be great to watch and end up having a lot of fun. So for any Raptors fans or basketball fans in general who ever went to a home game and wondered “How can I get on court to try that out?” or “How come they never pick me?”, I thought I would give my top 5 tips on what you should do when attending a game so you too can experience the thrill of being on the court for a promotion….*I am also writing this as if I were the one selecting, but honestly, these rules can apply for any team at any time.
1) DRESS TO IMPRESS….THE FANS. DECK YOURSELF OUT IN HOME TEAM GEAR. When looking for fans, I always tended to look for those dawned in home team colors. Wearing a jersey, a team sweater, a hat, having your face painted or anything that shows me that you are here to cheer the team on proudly. Wearing home team gear on the court would get the audience on your side, and that is what we want to happen. We don’t want the audience to boo you off the court. Show your love for the team and you will definitely be at the top of the list for possible choices.
2) IF YOU ARE WEARING OPPOSING TEAM GEAR…..THEN YOU HAVE NO CHANCE. It is amazing how many people have stopped me in the aisles over the past 6 seasons begging me to be chosen, while wearing a jersey from the other team. What were they thinking? I should just throw in the towel and call it a day if I were to pick someone supporting the other squad. The fans would have ripped them apart. If you want to be on court, then don’t wear opposing team gear. Seems like a pretty obvious tip right?
3) DRESS SHOES/HIGH HEELS/BOOTS…..NO CAN DO. I don’t like to discriminate against shoes. I love shoes. Give me a nice pair of Air Jordan’s any day of the week. I think sometimes fans wondered why I was always looking at their feet when selecting. Trust me, I don’t have a foot fetish or anything. I just wanted to make sure that the selected fans were wearing proper footwear. A basketball court is very delicate. Stomping around the court in high heels or heavy-duty boots probably wouldn’t be a good thing, so I never took that risk. Besides, most of the contests we had, the participants were running around. It might be kind of awkward running in anything but a proper sneaker. I am just saving you from a possible ankle injury. You should thank me.
4) GET MY ATTENTION! WOW ME! A majority of the time, I am just standing at the bottom of the aisles looking for the perfect contestant. Sometimes it is hard to spot them right away. If for whatever reason, you have an inkling that I may be looking for someone, then show me you want to be selected. Wave your hands in the air, yell at me, do a dance, or literally anything that would make me want to approach you and ask you if your interested. Don’t wait for me to come to you.
5) BE PREPARED TO DO LITERALLY ANYTHING. NEVER SAY NO. We have had everything from Dizzy Bat Races to Dance Contests to Sumo Suit Battles. We are very diverse as far as what we put on the court, just like all other NBA Game Crews are. Sometimes, it may seem a little embarrassing to go in front of a huge group of people and do something that you may not be accustomed to. Just remember to have fun with it. The promo’s only last approximately one minute anyways, so you will be off the court in no time. Your making memories here. In the end, you will most likely win a prize anyways. Just go with it. No matter what is asked of you to do, just say yes. Everyone always ends up having an amazing time.
*Thanks to Ruth Osten (Raptors Interactive Squad Member) for the blog idea!