Don’t you hate it when you’re at a sporting event and there’s this one person who keeps standing up in front of you and you want to yell, “SIT DOWN!”?
Well, a couple weeks ago, that person was ME!
I was sitting four rows up from the floor during the BYU women’s basketball game. It was a big game. We had an alumni luncheon before the game. It was senior night, meaning it was the last time the seniors would be playing on their home floor in the Marriott Center. The opponent was Gonzaga, the perennial conference champions who stood in first place.
As we walked from the practice facility, where the luncheon was, through the tunnel and onto the floor, I could feel the excitement from the larger-than-normal crowd. I got the chills as I watched the lights drop. They announced the starting lineups, and played highlights on the jumbotron. The crowd was buzzing. The tone was set for a big game.
We made our way to our seats, and we watched a back and forth game. These women displayed their best efforts. For the four seniors, it would be one of their last games as a college athlete.
BYU dug themselves a hole and were down by about 10 points at the start of the 4th quarter. If they were going to win, it was going to take a huge effort to change the momentum of the game.
I started to think about my experience at the North Carolina at Duke mens basketball game weeks ago, where we literally did not sit down the entire game. Because NO ONE did. It was a collective effort by the fans to show their team they cared enough to sacrifice their comfortable (or not so comfortable) seat and to instead stand to cheer on their team. It was never a question of whether we were going to stand up or not. It was part of the game. And it made it that much more enjoyable.
There I was at this BYU women’s basketball game remembering how fun it was to stand and show support at that game in North Carolina. And so I thought, yeah, that’s what I need to do.
As BYU chipped away at the lead on offense, I stood to cheer them on, hoping that my efforts would in turn help them. I hoped that it would help motivate them to try a little harder. To not feel as tired. To be able to dig deeper and ignore the pain of exhaustion. I wanted to stand and cheer so that I could help take away confidence from the Gonzaga team and give it to my BYU team.
As a fan, you’re not in control of much. You aren’t playing, so you can’t make plays to help win the game. You aren’t a coach so you can’t make decisions that affect the outcome. So really, being a fan is the worst. All you can do is watch. But you can also cheer and stand and yell and give it your all that way.
So I decided that’s what I’d do. Now, don’t get me wrong. I‘m usually a quiet, observant fan just enjoying the game I love. I’ve mostly thought those crazy fans who yell just need to calm down and that there is no way I’d ever be associated with THOSE people.
But I do remember back in high school being so invested at the boys basketball games. I remember yelling so loud at the games and wanting them to win so badly. And feeling like, if I just cheered loud enough and was present enough in the game, that by my efforts, the guys would win the game.
So I stood instead of sat at the BYU game. And yelled. And clapped. And gave it my all.
But apparently the kid behind me didn’t like it. “Can you sit down?” he asked.
“No,” I bluntly replied. “I’m not going to do that. I’m going to stand to cheer on my team.” (He was obviously a Gonzaga fan). The look on his face was that of unbelief and shock. I guess he couldn’t believe that I would say no, and that I would say it so nonchalantly.
As the momentum shifted to BYU, I remained standing, hoping others would join me. (They didn’t btw. LOL. I’m the only moron).
In fact, at one point, after BYU made a big shot, I saw the BYU coaches motioning to the crowd to stand up, so I did the same. Hey, I was here to support them. So if they ask me to do something, I’ll do it! I turned around to the crowd and waved my arms up and down to get them to stand up. I then realized there was a number of Gonzaga fans behind me, and no one was standing up. (oh well, I tried).
It was then that I realized that I was in the middle of a potential “moment,” if you will. I suddenly thought of Tony Robbins. (I love me some Tony). I thought of his story of when he made his family all stand up on their chairs at a restaurant and shout their server’s name to demonstrate how pleased they were for his service. His kids were reluctant to do it (because duh, that’s super awkward). But it turned out to be an incredible story and a memory that they will always share. Long story short, the server was given a raise, Tony Robbins’ daughter ends up working there and eventually marries that server! All because Tony seized an opportunity to do something special, or awkward, however you want to look at it.
So in that moment, I thought, what if I, a 39-year-old mom of three kids, got in front of the stands and ran back and forth to get everyone to stand up in the crowd?! What if I did that? I wanted to do it. I felt like if I did it, it would help the team win the game. And if I did it, it would be something that we talked about for a long time! My kids would say, “Remember that time when mom ran in front of the crowd to get them to cheer,” and the ending of the story would be, “And BYU won the game because the crowd got so loud that the players had courage and confidence as they fed off their energy!” (haha) I could create that story for my kids to tell about their mom. People would laugh at the ridiculousness of it. But it would be a fun memory to have. If I did nothing, there would be no memory. No story told.
Think about it. Think about the stories you have. Most of them stem from something unusual or awkward that happened. It wouldn’t be a story if you went to a basketball game and just sat there and watched. It would only be a story if you created something out of the ordinary.
As I mulled over this thought of running across the court and the implications of it, I also thought of the potential embarrassment. So I didn’t do it.
Maybe I missed an opportunity. Maybe it wouldn’t have amounted to much of anything. But I bet it could’ve been a story that we told for a long time and that we could at least laugh about later. And that’s what it’s all about, right?! My mom always tells us that life is all about having stories to tell.
After my failed attempt to get the crowd up and out of their seats, I never sat down until I knew BYU would win and they no longer needed my efforts. And I had so much fun at the game. Because I stood and was completely engaged in every play, and tried my best to encourage the players, it was that much more fun for me.
When the kid asked me to sit down, I asked him to stand up. Even though we were cheering for different teams, I wanted him to stand up to enjoy the game more. When he asked me a second time to sit down, I told him, “No. I am trying to support my team.” His response: “Why don’t you support us by sitting down?” I laughed and said, “I’m not here to support you, buddy. Why don’t you stand up? It’s more fun that way.” I did actually feel bad that I was blocking his view. And tried to apologize during a timeout that I was sorry but that I’m just trying to have fun and trying to support my team. I asked him to join me, but he just stared back at me in disgust. Haha. Sorry buddy. Maybe next time, you’ll have a better experience if you stand up.
Just stand up, people. Life is more fun that way.