Fans Getting Free Chicken Suddenly One of the Most Exciting Things in Sports

Free-throw promotions are sweeping a hungry nation.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone likes getting free stuff. No one denies this. Even those that have dropped a pretty penny on NBA tickets, parking, concessions, merch, and any number of other ancillary items that make a trip out to the ol' arena really add up financially. So on one hand it's not entirely surprising to see interest in gratis chicken tenders or sandwiches explode recently. On the other hand, it's fast-dining chicken so people could probably settle down a bit.

On Wednesday night, Philadelphia 76ers fans piled into Wells Fargo Arena to see a reasonably healthy Joel Embiid & Co. take on the Miami Heat and an entire culture in the NBA's Play-In Tournament. The Sixers overcame a 12-point halftime deficit to emerge with a 105-104 and a date with the New York Knicks in the first round. But the biggest cheer of the night may have come early in the third quarter when Miami's Caleb Martin misfired on the first of two free throw attempts. The sweet, tempting allure of free meat wafted through the gym and Mike Breen skillfully understood the magnitude of the moment, rising to another level as Martin also missed the second.

If you can't go nuts for something objectively silly at the ballgame, then when can you? And hey, perhaps this was the turning point in the game as it allowed the crowd to really lock in knowing that, at some time in the future, they could hit a drive-thru and get a little snack as a treat.

Food-based free-throw promotions are not new but one could argue that they've never enjoyed a brighter moment on the sporting stage. Earlier this week, Houston Rockets big man and John Wick star Boban Marjanovic seemed to intentionally miss two from the charity stripe while playing the Clippers in Los Angeles. He was rightly hailed as a man of the people and a folk hero and will go down in the annals of history as someone who did a lot for poultry. Marjanovic is already one of the more popular rotation players in the league but this will only endear him more to everyone. Because one of the weird things about these promotions is that fans at home tend to be legitimately happy for those in attendance who will benefit from the bricks. It's downright nice.

At this point any team that does not have a high-stakes promotion like this in operation is falling behind. There are no shortage of fast-food establishments that will pay dearly for the privilege of being associated with what's becoming a sneaky highlight of the experience.

Kyle K