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It's All About The Game... Or It Ought To Be...

Dan Ryan
Saturday May 24, 2014

I love the game.

I hate the business.

So I’m not going to talk about the business.

I’m going to share a story instead.

It really doesn’t matter if it originated from a league that had rebound nets. Or awarded a point if a kickoff goes through the net. If you still think that does make a difference, I refer you to the biggest hit of the R&B artist Celo Green.

Anyway, back to the part of me loving the game.

The game at its finest, provides the opportunity to exceed. Put two teams evenly matched in talent that are well coached and the potential for a great display is always there. Combine that with an unparalleled opportunity to be fan friendly and a great night of entertainment can be enjoyed by all.

A few years backs, I’m actually working for one league and calling webcasts for a team in another. Don’t ask. It worked.  And if you use the term ankle-biter, you’re just as bad as Donald Sterling in my book.

The audiocast was all about opportunity. My stepson spotted for me a couple times. Free meals and other perks. Tickets for family and friends. Plus, it was <fun>.

The team marketing director paired me with one of his clients. Turns out we were in the same LDS mission at different times, kinda like serving on the same Navy ship. We clicked as a broadcast team immediately. Our families would have dinner together. He even gave me some contract work that made up for anything I did for free. I still hear from him time to time.

So it’s game day. The one league has business drama. I hate the business drama, especially if it’s unnecessary. Game gets cancelled.  Oh, well, at least I get to call my 8-3 team’s expected win over the 3-8 team they’ve beaten twice before.

2ND Quarter:  3-8 team 37, 8-3 team 13.

Oh, damn.

This is where it gets fun.

8-3 team scores just before halftime to get it down to a two-score game, then scores on the opening possession of the third to cut the deficit to seven. That’s clock management Markowitz would love.

3-8 team is still playing lights out. 8-3 team responds.  Defensive stop. Onside kick. You name it, the second half had everything. It was a show.

Five seconds to go. It’s a 63-60 game. 8-3 team is at the 3-8 team’s 15. Kicker’s missed three extra points. Of course, they go for the field goal.

My call “Snap’s down. Here’s the kick. Height. Distance. Accuarate. IT”S FRAKKING GOOD [Battlestar Galactica was still on Sy Fy at the time.]  OVERTIME !!! 24 POINTS? NO PROBLEM. MISSED PATs? NO PROBLEM. ONLY IN THIS SPORT CAN YOU GO FROM `OH CRAP TO ATTA BOY’ SO QUICK …

“How did you come up with that line? “My partner asked during commercial.

“A friend.” I responded.

Overtime. 3-8 team scored first, but the kicker who was 750-750 lifetime shanks it. Wow.

You know what happens next . First play. Flat out nasty timing pattern over the middle. Receiver catches in full stride. He’s fast. Touchdown. PAT? “IT”S FRAKKING GOOD” 70-69!!!.

We’re in the booth hugging and fist bumping. It was amazing. Post-game interviews were awesome, but not as awesome as what happened next.

Remember, I get tickets to give away. Was having lunch earlier in the day. Waiter’s a struggling college student. He and his wife just had their first kid. The tip included two tickets.

Well, after the quarterback and kicker left, here comes the waiter and his wife up to the booth. They all exchange handshakes. I noticed the waiter and his wife were wearing team t-shirts.

“This was the first time we’ve been out since the baby,” she said. “Thank you so much. We had such a great time.  We won these shirts. Met some great people in the stands. Went on the field and talked to the players. We’re coming back.”

You drive home at night in the western US, and if the moon’s bright enough and there’s still snow on the mountain, it’s an amazing drive.  That night, because of what happened on a 50-yard field, calling a game with a friend, and two fans watching, everything seemed a little brighter for some reason.

Until the other league called. Damn it.

I listened for 30 seconds, then tried in vain to turn the conversation toward my experience at an actual   game.  I still allowed myself a smile. The night was still a little brighter.

Hate the business.

Love the game.   

Dan Ryan has been involved with all forms of arena football since 1988, including writing for ArenaFan when Joe Kauffman and Tim Capper arenít killing his columns because they donít get his jokes or perspective. His day job is at Bethune-Cookman University, which has produced both an NFL Hall of Famer (Larry Little) and an Arena Football Hall of Famer (Stevie Thomas) and his hobby is tracking how many f-bombs Adam Markowitz drops in the chat room on game nights.
The opinions expressed in the article above are only those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, opinions, or official stance of ArenaFan Online or its staff, or the Arena Football League, or any AFL or af2 teams.
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