You have to have some serious pull. You have to be celebrity-big. A Ford Truck Man. A movie star. You gotta be known.
If you’re not, and most folks interested in going to an Oklahoma City Thunder basketball game don’t have their own nickname or get the opportunity to call the shots, every shot, every time, there’s a good chance you’re going to be caught.
Head to a Thunder game these days and you better be aware, you better be ready and you better play some defense, because there’s a $3.9 million, 46,000-pound Big Brother, 35-feet-high, 31-feet-tall ready to broadcast you. Head to any game, any sporting event, concert or monster truck rally with a huge scoreboard and you better be ready to be visible. If not, stay home.
These days, you better be watching more than the game because someone is definitely watching you.
“If someone comes and says don’t put me on camera, we don’t put them on,” said John Leach, director of events and entertainment and basically the man directing the show on the new, giant scoreboard at the Thunder games inside the Ford Center. “It’s celebrities mostly. Over the years, when I worked in Charlotte, we’d have some people come to the games and tell us not to put them on camera. But my thing is, if you don’t want to be seen, don’t sit courtside.”
Or frankly, don’t come at all, because you’re going to get caught at some time, during some time-out. If you want to avoid being caught on camera, the odds are against you.
Consider this: At Thunder games alone ” and in the NBA, for that matter, where sports and entertainment mix together to make rock ‘n’ roll basketball buffet ” there’s the game, but there’s also: Kiss Cam, The Flex Cam, The Dance Cam, Sing-Along Cam, Fan Cam, Kids Cam, Loud City Cam and” maybe the most feared for those fearing being broadcast ” The Obliva-Vision, where the camera seeks those not paying attention, showing them looking foolishly into space or blankly staring, or something possibly even more embarrassing, maybe even a finger in the nose.
“I love watching the game, but sometimes it feels like I’m watching the scoreboard even more. And I’d say being caught on Kiss Cam would be embarrassing,” said Matt McCall of Lawton, who was sitting courtside at a recent Thunder game … with his mother.
Then again, there are always those who crave the camera. Take, for example, Derrick Seys, who is a 43-year-old aerospace engineer. You get the feeling Halloween is a really big deal for Seys. After all, he dresses up every Thunder game, ensconcing himself in a “brick cloak” and hat ” all for the purpose of throwing off shooters from opposing teams.
“We just want to be seen by the guys shooting,” said Seys, who sits behind the basket. “If we show up on the scoreboard, that’s just a bonus. Hey, I was even on Kiss Cam once.”
“I think it’s funny,” said his wife, Anne. “But then again, I’m married to him.”
Most people do think it’s funny, as long as it’s not them on camera. Come on, admit it. You love seeing the shot of the guy who won’t kiss his date or the girl too shy to show her face and the kid with the oversized foam finger.
We want “reality TV”; we just don’t want it to be us up there for everyone else to see.
“I think I’d rather have LeBron James crash into me then get caught on camera,” said Scott Adams of Yukon, who showed up to see the Cleveland Cavaliers from his courtside seat the Ford Center.
And it’s not just in OKC. Thanks to the NBA, even colleges are getting into the scoreboard act, with a lot of the same features.
“It’s an entertainment age,” said OU women’s basketball coach Sherri Coale. “People have an attention span that’s three seconds long. But as a coach, if that stuff on the scoreboard entertains people or generates enthusiasm, it’s great.”
Go to a Thunder game. The new scoreboard definitely encourages interaction, fun and a “did-you-see-that-dude-do-that” kind of feel. Ten panels, plus a sharp picture, make viewing easy from all seats.
“We’re there to have fun,” Leach said. “It might be at one person’s expense, and you’re subject to being ‘that guy,’ but we’re not out to embarrass anyone. We want to make it entertaining. Not only basketball fans come to games. People who are new, sometimes come for other reasons. We try to cater to all of the people there.”
There’s a lot to see, and that’s not even counting the game. But be careful.
“If there are cameras, and you’re at a public event, expect to be seen,” Leach said. “And if you want to come to the game and you’re part of the Witness Protection (Program), just send us an email. We promise not to put you on the screen.”