Make A Choice: Sideline Or Court Side
My job has given me privileges I never dreamed of as a sports fan growing up. I've been down on the field for dozens of Michigan football games, I've been in the press box for even more and I've sat criss-cross applesauce on the baseline floor of the Crisler Center for several Michigan basketball games.
I've gotten to see and hear things you simply cannot on TV or from the closest seats money can buy. I've been able to shake hands with several TV personalities, Jim, Jack and John Harbaugh and John Beilein. I've even been on the same surface and less than 20 feet away from Tom Brady and Michael Jordan.
Did I mention I got paid to do all of those things?
Ok, ok....that's enough boasting. But really, I count my blessings everyday because I've been able to take in some high level college sports action from about as close as you can get.
So the question is, would you rather take in a football game from the sideline or a basketball game from the baseline or sideline?
First of all, if you've done either of these things before, good for you. It really is an awesome atmosphere and I hope every Michigan fan gets to experience it at some point in their life.
As much as I love football, I'm actually going to pick taking in a basketball game court side at the Crisler Center and I have a couple of reasons why.
The first reason is simply because of the view. It's actually quite hard to take in a football game from the field. There are 22 large humans moving really fast in short bursts. The action can be pretty hard to follow from the field because you simply can't see much from that vantage point.
In basketball, however, you can see everything. There are only 10 players on the court and, for the most part, they stay pretty spread out. Watching a high-level basketball game from the floor is truly amazing. Seeing dudes that tall fly through the air the way they do is incredible.
The optics simply favor basketball.
Reason No. 2 is the intimacy. There are more than 100,000 people inside Michigan Stadium for a football game and the players are often very far away. Very rarely do they get close to the sideline and when they do, it's usually only one or two players.
In basketball, Crisler is full at just under 14,000 people. That's still a lot of noise indoors, but you can hear the hoopers chattering. You can hear their sneakers squeaking across the floor. You can even hear the ball bounce and go through the net.
I once heard Jon Teske call another player a strong choice word after dunking near him. I've played basketball my whole life, and know stuff like that takes place, but it was pretty awesome to hear Teske talk some trash after a big play.
I also overheard a comical exchange between Zavier Simpson, Isaiah Livers and Eli Brooks this past season.
Michigan was up big against one of its early-season opponents and there were just a few seconds remaining on the game clock, but Michigan needed to inbound the ball to finish the game.
Livers was taking the ball out under the opponent's basket and both Simpson and Brooks were awaiting the pass equidistant from each other and Livers about where the free-throw line would extend toward the sidelines.
Simpson yelled to Livers, "Who do you love more, Zay? Who do you love more?" Livers looked at both Simpson and Brooks and then laughed. He proceeded to inbound the ball to X and then immediately ran up to hug Eli.
You simply don't get those kinds of close-up, personal moments at a football game. They exist, but they are extremely rare given the size of the field and venue. You pretty much have to be in the perfect place at the perfect time to catch moments like that.
Even though I like watching football more, I think you get better, more personal experiences watching basketball from the floor. If you ever get the opportunity to take in a game from that angle, jump at it.