Throughout my adult life, I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to witness sporting events from the press box as well as in the stands.
Last weekend at the Austin Regional of the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament, I did both. And because I did, I was able to discover the merits of both (and some of the demerits as well.)
But let’s get the main lesson here – there’s still nothing like being at a big event, no matter where you sit.
Disch-Falk Field on the campus of the University of Texas has a listed capacity of 6,649 and had a crowd of 8,000 for a 1982 NCAA Tournament game. But Saturday night, the listed attendance for the Texas-Louisiana Tech game was 8,502, the most to ever see a college baseball game in the 48-year history of the facility.
Not sure how they counted me, so there might have only been 8,501.
In the press box, things were typically sterile. Windows closed, air conditioner on, food in the back right by the stat sheets. Great view, comfortable chairs and easy access to the bathroom. Which is fine and dandy, but it does have a certain sense of library-ness. You only get a sense of what is actually going on outside below you.
On the other side of the glass, it’s a different world. And I’m really happy I took the time to just take it all in from Section 110, Row 2.
First of all, what kind of odds could you have gotten that Louisiana Tech would be the opponent for the record-breaking game? Were the masses waiting for the opportunity to exact revenge from that 1980 tournament loss?
It was, however, a beautiful night with a meaningful game. It was definitely the place to be.
What is also interesting to me is to see the stadium demographics. You know what to expect in the kind of fans you’ll see in the reserved sections (upper and lower chairback seats) that were sold out way in advance. The Tech faithful were stuck in the upper corner of the first base section.
But walk down the lines where the general admission sections were located and you discovered that territory was basically a party with a baseball game as a sideshow. Lots of inappropriate clothing and haircuts that defied description. If you had asked those in general admission for the score of the game being played in front of them, you got the feeling many would have said, “What game?”
Look, every fan base thinks somebody else’s fan base is full of nut jobs. And it can be no fun sitting in a sea of fans who are pulling for a team you are rapidly growing to dislike.
Which is why I had the overwhelming urge to turn around after a Tech pickoff move to first base and ask the guy behind me one simple question. “Why are you booing? What is so offensive to you about a simple pickoff move that you need to show derision? If it’s because you think it’s a waste of time, then I’ll expect you to also boo when Texas tries to pick off a Tech base runner. BE A BETTER FAN!!!”
That’s what I had the urge to do. Instead, I kept my mouth shut and benefitted from not having a beer “accidentally” fall down the back of my shirt.
Hopefully they weren’t booing pickoff moves in the press box.
Contact J.J. at JohnJamesMarshall@yahoo.com