Beyond the Arc
by Ben Fiore
Football fields are about 15 yards away from their stands. Soccer stands are approximately the same distance from the pitch. Baseball fans sit at a minimum behind a wall. Hockey seats are behind glass boards. Basketball is the only major sport where fans are allowed to be on the same level as the professional athletes and staff. There are plenty of reasons that this has proven to be a bad thing, so let me explain.
Time after time we have seen players fall into the stands and ran into fans sitting on the sideline. It could injure the players and fans. This has caused a lot of concern in the past, especially in instances when kids are getting jumped on by behemoths like Joel’s Embiid trying to save a ball.
Fans and players catch heat for this all the time. From college to the pros, fans are simply too close and will say almost anything to players, and the players sometimes retaliate like the infamous Russell Westbrook. Sure there is security, but ultimately there are too man fan and athlete confrontations compared to what we see between fans and pros of other sports because they are simply too close. Sometimes this even leads to fights and shit like the epic brawl between the Pacers and Pistons that lead to the stands in the early 2000’s.
Most superfans are wealthy celebrities that can afford courtside seats often. We have seen it with people like Spike Lee for the Knicks, Jack Nicholson for the Lakers and various other stars and not had problems. But then there are superfans like Drake… Drake is infamous (especially recently) for being obnoxious on the sidelines at Toronto Raptors games. I’m all for city and team pride, but being a celebrity doesn’t grant you access of a player or staff because you’re NOT A PLAYER OR ON THE STAFF YOU ARE JUST A FAN. Ok I’m done screaming. But seriously, you should be sitting in your seat and if players come up to you pre and post game that’s fine but during the game, no fan should be any further than their chair. It interferes with the game. They wouldn’t let a rich no noname do that, so why is Drake entitled to do so? I don’t care if you’re a “brand ambassador” or whatever the hell. The court is for players refs and coaching staffs. If you don’t fit into those categories, back the hell up. It’s embarrassing to the sport. Especially when he’s getting in the face of players after a game as if he’s on the team like Drake did with Draymond Green last night. Normal fans would be escorted out for that. So listen “6 god” stick to music. Because you’re ruining fandom for everyone else. If you don’t like it, let that hotline bling, jackass.
The court being so close to the fans seems awesome, but there’s a reason no other sport does it that way. Simply put, they could even just raise the court slightly like you see in college during the final four. Or even put up some type of knee-high barrier that is just a physical separation to let everybody know that interfering with the game and those involved is unacceptable. There are definitely other ways to go about it, but that’s the best idea I can think of. Due to all the problems I listed in this article, I strongly believe the NBA will do something about this in the next 5 years because if it’s this bad already, it can only get worse.