Thursday, March 11, 2010
Fear and Bromance at the ACC
As a heterosexual Southern male, I should be glued to a sports channel right now. But at the risk of getting my regional man-card revoked, I gotta tell ya: basketball bores me. It shouldn't. I've huddled with the son of the man who invented the game, scrunched under the bucket as airborne athletes tried to decapitate me and my camera, even chased Michael Jordan himself through a few celebrity golf tournaments. Still, my eyes glaze over like a spent junkie whenever I wander on the court. All of which made me the perfect person to drag reporter Shelby Baker through her very first ACC Fan Fest. That's what they're calling the area outside the Greensboro Coliseum this week. Beer vendors, rock climbing walls, soul food tents and enough Budweiser Girls to start a hundred bar-fights proved a suitable distraction for the masses as they filed inside for four days of the best basketball Tobacco Road has to offer. Shelby and I entered the coliseum complex before the first game even started. It quickly proved a target-rich environment.
We didn't go inside, mind you. No, to enter the coliseum itself required patience and credentials I didn't have. Those weighted lanyards no doubt hung around the collective neck of our crackerjack sports teams. As they used them to score free M&M's and life giving wi-fi deep inside the complex's bowels, Shelby and I skirted the edges of the pavilion and parking lot. There we found the props and characters needed to file a report on the manufactured bedlam surrounding this point of pilgrimage. Beer swilling He-Men, coupled buddies, whole families clad in horrid hues and one dude with his beard painted blue. Happily each fanatic submitted to an interview, telling us how far they'd traveled, where work thought they really were and why the opposing team's head coach was a noted sociopath and possible pedophile. Why, it was enough crazy talk to make this cameraman keep both eyes open. At one point, I broke away from Shelby and manned the ramp leading to the coliseum. A steady stream of sycophants filed past, pointing to the logos on their chests and nodding knowingly to my up and running lens. You there - in the day-glo seat suit and disco wig - just because I got a big TV camera on my shoulder doesn't mean we're pals. Back off!
Soon enough, Shelby and I had all the clamor we could distillate and we fled the grounds without so much as a longing look at the sleek black buses spewing future millionaires and their current coterie of hangers-on. I suppose we could have climbed the fence and bum-rushed the players for some fresh sound, but I wouldn't have know what to ask them - let alone what cliches to use. Besides, my reporter and I had achieved our objective and were due back in the newsroom to log, write and edit. In fact, we would have been through with the venue altogether had we not had to return for the invariable live shot. When we returned a few minutes before showtime we brought a secret weapon: Weaver. With little assistance from yours truly, the Mighty Weave erected our wireless hop, enabling Mrs. Baker and I the ability to wander the parking lot LIVE(!) and unencumbered by pesky drunk-tripping cables. Not only that, he watched by back as I one-eyed it across the lot, holding his crackberry up high and recording my thinning hair from every unflattering angle. It's a bit painful for me to watch but it does showcase how utterly mundane live television can be.
Thanks for the help, pal. Next time can you photo-shop in a few more follicles before sharing it with the world? I'll gladly throw in a few forged press-passes and some old soul-food bones to make it worth your while...