Friday, October 19, 2012

10th New Thing ~ Kim is Always Right

If I asked a variety of people to name their favorite professional sports team, I imagine I'd get a variety of answers.

What would your answer be?

Teams of all sports: football, soccer, basketball, hockey....
Teams here in the Pacific Northwest, geography-based loyalty.
Or perhaps a team from somewhere you've lived before: Indianapolis, Charlotte.
Or a team you loved growing up: Yankees, Spurs, Rams
Maybe the team of your favorite player: Lions, 49er's, Suns

Or perhaps your favorite team is your favorite because they are regularly the underdog team. For Seattle based teams, over the years, you can cover both the underdog and 'geography-based loyalty' angle.   (I've always tended to be the Cheer for the Underdog kind of fan.)
You're thinking of your favorite team right now, aren't you?
Whatever your choice, I'd hazard a guess that very few of you would name a professional women's team.

There are some people in my life of which I can’t precisely recall how the relationship came about. They appeared exactly when I needed them, in a magical, mystical way. I continued to believe…have faith and sure enough, the universe rallies on my behalf. Every time.

Kim is one of those people.
Kim, who is always right. (I need to remember to link this to Michelle or I won't get paid for that statement.)

When I first started compiling the list of 50 New Things, my mind was a flurry of ideas, my social conversations, a steady stream of suggestions and discussions about possibilities.

Consequently, one evening on the phone when Kim said she was going to 'the game' the following weekend, I asked....
"Game? What game?"
"The Storm."
"Oh, I've never been to a Storm game," I said. It was fast becoming a reflex. Shamelessly inviting myself. No pressure, Kim. In fact, I'd never been to any professional women's sports event. Not that our culture offers many choices this way.

Kim has a season ticket package. She gave me a few dates to choose from. The best day worked out to be the Storm's last home game of the regular season.


Fan Appreciation Night. 
San Antonia Silver Stars v. Seattle Storm 
Third and fourth in the Western Conference, respectively. 
Both teams having already secured playoff positions.

We arrived in plenty of time. Parked and walked a short distance to Key Arena. Well, Kim walked, I made choppy little scuttling steps, trying to keep up. Her legs are twice as long as mine.
She never actually said, “Keep up, Shorty.” But she kept looking around to make sure she could still see me.

We were handed free bright green Storm t-shirts on our way in the door. The first so many fans.

Kim let me accept my free t-shirt but absolutely forbade me from picking up a complimentary pair of bam bams.

"No bam bams."
I didn’t know what she was talking about.
“If you’re going to sit with me, no bam bams.”
"What are bam bams?" I whispered to one of Kim's daughters.
"Nevermind, you'll see," she said.

Well, I don't know about you but if someone says to me "No bam bams for you," suddenly all I want is bam bams. Even though I had no idea what they were.
We shopped in the team store for a while and regardless of what bam bams are, I want credit for resisting the urge to buy a set of Seattle Storm tattoo sleeves.

When I walked into Key Arena, I only knew the name of two players. Not surprisingly, Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird. But as I watched the game I quickly developed favorites and non-favorites. At first I wasn't crazy about Katie Smith. One of the shorter Storm players at 5'11".
I thought she argued with the refs too much. I wanted to say, "Just play." But she grew on me. She had great energy and passion for each play. You gotta love someone who feels so strongly about something. She became my favorite.

My least favorite was, of course, the Stars player that seemed to give us the most trouble. I don't remember her name but she probably plays offensive lineman during the off-season. And I don't think she missed once at the free throw line.

In the first half, it looked like the Storm was not going to have any problem winning this game. But in the third quarter I began to worry a little bit. They chipped away at the gap and before we knew it, the game could have gone either way.

Helpful Storm Tip: At the beginning of a Storm game, you don't sit down until Seattle scores their first basket. Also at the start of second half.

In the weeks prior, I looked forward to the game, expecting to appreciate the superior athleticism of a professional basketball team. And I was not disappointed. I had always suspected that most of us Pacific Northwest residents were idiots, for not appreciating and giving these players due credit and patronage for their athletic excellence. I know that I was guilty.

What I didn't expect to find was that the crowd would be so fun. A great mix of young and old, moms and dads. couples on dates. I really had not expected there would be so many kids excited and cheering, running down on the court for the conga line during time-out periods.

The climate of energy in the arena was so much more friendly and light-hearted than my experience with other professional sports.

It's good math: more smiling families, face-painted children, less drunken, stumbling assholes.

Even the youngest kids that night were better behaved than most adult fans in my previous experience.

In fact, there was not a soul around us who was the least bit belligerent or intoxicated. There was plenty of screaming, cheering, whistling, thanks to the man a few row above us, trashcan-lid cymbal smashing. Much less booing and heckling than I've ever witnessed at such an event. And there was no one sitting there that was 'too cool' to participate. Why go at all if you're going to sit there grumbling, mocking your team?

And I'm probably not helping ticket sales, for certain demographics by pointing this out, but there were no pubescent girls, dressed like a skank and dancing like strippers during half time.
Talk about Fan Appreciation!!

Instead, the half-time show was a children's dance team. The Storm Dance Troupe. Boys and girls, from, I'd guess, ages 6 - 12. My face hurt from smiling, as I watched their pure enthusiasm and joy. It was a blast.

(I wonder, when he's old enough, if Connor would be interested in auditioning for the Storm Dance Troupe....hmmmmm, I'm short, maybe they'd take me??)

I love that all the kids in the crowd are seeing this team of professional athletes in an atmosphere of overwhelming respect and admiration. Full audience participation. Hopefully, they will be more likely to hold up these female athletes with the same 'ROCK STAR' reverence that most of our short-sighted society holds for (even mediocre) male athletes. I was grateful to every dad in the crowd sitting next to his son or daughter.

(Want to sponsor a kid to attend a Storm game? See the link at bottom of this post.)

I wish my name was Barbie Calabro, but sadly, it's not. (That voice melts me.) So you'll be getting no play-by-play from me.

I'll cut to the chase, the end of the game was exciting. Seattle won. Not with a last minute basket. But close enough for me. 84 - 75.

As exciting as the end of the game was, it was nothing compared to the end of the 'Catapulting of Fan Appreciation Memorabilia."

After celebrating the win then grabbing the microphone to thank the fans for a great season, the players positioned themselves around the perimeter of the court, Sharpies in hand, launching autographed t-shirts and shoes into the crowd of frenzied fanatics, waving their arms….. in the stands.

Here's something I've never done: I've never caught anything at a game.

Okay, and I didn't catch anything at this one either.
But that's not my fault. I'm five feet tall. Kim is like......more than five feet tall. So are her daughters. As are most people. We yelled and waved our arms hoping to draw some attention in our direction. Svetlana Abrosimova signed a rolled up t-shirt, handed it to her lovely assistant, who launched it into the crowd. The t-shirt came straight for us. But even the people in the row, just below us, dwarfed me. Kim wrestled it out of the grasp of some burly guy in front of us, then handed it to me. Okay, maybe it wasn't a burly guy, but an elderly nun...whatever... I walked out of Key Arena with that t-shirt. Signed by Svetlana Abrosimova. Score.

"Kim is always right."

The autographed t-shirt was enough for me. I was a happy fan. Then the shoes started flying.
Holy cow! Given the size of the shoes involved, this seemed like a dangerous thing to be vaulting into the mass of people. I promptly stopped waving my arms, preparing to duck and cover. This really felt like the prudent thing to do and I would have thought everyone else would duck too. But no.

This is where being short kept me safe. At one point a signed basketball shoe headed our direction. I managed to resist the instinct to dive under my seat. Kim’s arms flew into the air, the shoe spun end over end, threatening to give someone a concussion. It was like watching slow motion. The shoe hit the tip of her fingers, but the momentum sent it toppling into the hands of the guy behind us, who came down with the shoe clutched to this chest. Kim had to settle for the assist. She’d have preferred the rebound, but the guy was not parting with that shoe. Signed by Camille Little.

There was a lot of debate on the ride home about how close she’d been to snagging that shoe. Kim's daughters… engaging in family-friendly trash talk, mentioned if their fingers had touched the shoe, they wouldn't have let it get away. Kim was disappointed. So close.
I felt bad for her as I held my two Storm t-shirts in my lap all the way home.

I had a great time. Great seats. Great company. Great game. Two t-shirts. No signed shoes. But most importantly. No Seattle Storm Bam bams. (Go Google it.)

At the end of this post, it was my intention to mention that I want full credit for not yielding to the temptation to 'go off' on male dominated sports dynamic in our culture. That being said....

I do not begrudge any team their fan base. But it feels like something is a little off. When WNBA came to the Pacific Northwest, I remember thinking, “How cool is that?”
But I was raised in a culture where female athletes and girl teams were always second to the guys. I'm not happy to admit that I never acted on the "How cool is that?" feeling I had. I didn't follow the team at all. Not in the paper, not on TV (had they been in the paper and on TV at the same copious amounts as other former and current Seattle sports teams).

Makes me sad. We are such sheep sometimes.
Our tendency to fall for the mass media marketing every time.

(And this is kind of an insult to actual sheep. Which, as it turns out, are not as easily led as one might think. See New Thing #11.)

It might be time to rethink the favorite team thing. I mean, right here where I live, there is a professional sports team that makes it to the playoffs, as a rule instead of as the exception.
The Storm have made it to post-season play 10 out of their 13 seasons. And yet in societal sports entertainment terms they still seem to be underdogs. 

I wrestled briefly with how to get pictures. I’ve really enjoyed photographing the New Things. 
But I wasn’t interested in lugging the camera around for the evening. Stadium seats are not known for their wealth of leg or elbow room. And in my experience of past sports events, there’s a good chance of jumping up, cheering! 
Sitting down. 
Jumping up, CHEERING!! 
Sitting back down. 
You can see the problem.

I decided a few pictures on my phone would be the best thing. 

The Seattle Storm
2004 & 2010 WNBA Champions

Attending a professional women's sports event...
My 10th New Thing 


  1. Way to go Barbie, and way to help support a local sports team, even though you didnt buy the ticket. I hear the sounders games are quite the romp, but the crowd may be more rowdy than the storm crowd.Keep writting!!

    1. Sounders would be New Thing for me.
      And a Seahawk game would be as well.
      I've also never seen a hockey game...(game or match?).
      And doesn't Seattle have a roller derby team?
      Thanks for the comment.
      Keep reading!!

  2. Attending a sports event such as basketball is thrilling. Women or men, they are true athletes. They spend the entire game running, RUNNING, back and forth. It has always taken my breath away to watch them. And basketball is such a more civilized sport. Even the mens. The coaches have on suits, the crowd isn't rude and the spirit of the crowd is always high. Good for you getting to go. Myself and my other used to go to the UW woman's games. My other used to have season tickets and would travel about the NW to watch them in other school arenas. You can't help but get into the game with basketball. I always hummed tunes by Blood Sweat and Tears while on my way to the games. Because that is what those hard playing people made me think of...BST :)

    1. BS&T ~ Now I have "And When I Die" stuck in my head, which is not a bad thing.

      Thanks for the comment, 'You've Made Me So Very Happy...'

  3. Nice job, Ms. B. Red Shoes. I'm glad you enjoyed yourself. I go for the pastoral events, just in case you asked. I'm a Cubs fan, not because of the Cubs, but because of Wrigley Field a pantheon to a game. Instant time travel back to when baseball was played during the day, teachers snuck in TVs in classrooms to watch the World Series (yes, once played in daylight!) and a blue sky over a Chicago highrise.
    But the ultimate sporting event I had, because you asked, was walking down a street in Portugal, coming across a street full of people watch a window full of TVs tuned to the World Cup match of the day. No, Portugal wasn't in the match, nor did it matter. It was football on the Grand Scale. I had a splendid afternoon trying to perform linguistic surgery between Portuguese, my bad French and slight-of-hand Spanish. I failed miserably but it didn't matter. (Spanish has nothing to do with Portuguese, French even less.)I was engaged with the crowd and the beautiful game, language wasn't necessary.
    That was the best, since you asked.
    (51 should be Portugal, you would love it . . .)cheers, J

    1. Of course, World Series during the day! Did we shift to evening games because it offers a bigger TV audience? That makes me sad.

      The 50 Things List is fluid and ever changing. Portugal? What an experience...caught up in the frenzied World Cup energy. I want to hear more of the Grand Scale football in Portugal story. Deal? I'll be the one in the RED Shoes!!

  4. Going to sporting events can be a very fun activity, kind of expensive though. I enjoy going to the Thunderbirds (hockey), Sounders FC (soccer), Seahawks (football). Once in awhile, I will catch the Mariners (baseball).

  5. I wish the expense weren't prohibitive. I'm really going to be sad if the Seahawk's season ends and I haven't been able to go. I want this for a New Thing but time is getting away from me. I need to research the tickets. My son reminds me the Sounder train is the way to go. We'll see how things work out.
    Thanks for reading. I appreciate it. ~ B

  6. I almost missed this one. I love it. I took my daughters to a the Seattle Reign game way back when... that was fun and the girls were playing basketball at the time and they were so thrilled at the idea that women could grow up and do that.

    We kept the signed mini-basketballs and the t-shirts they were giving away.

    I am glad you saw the Seattle Storm. ;d.