I’ve been an unabashed fanatic of the Utah Jazz for as long as I can remember. Since I also live in Salt Lake City, I have also had the privilege of attending my fair share of Jazz games in person. I’ve seen everything from thrilling playoff games to disheartening blowouts and everything in between. I’ve walked into the ESA feeling confident in a W, only to experience an out-of-nowhere loss. (Toronto. Last year. What the what?) I’ve seen spats between players (J-Smoove running after Harpring; Dirk decapitating AK) and brawls between fans (Jazz/Nuggets in 2010 playoffs). I’ve seen buzzer beaters, ejections, monster dunks, missed dunks, and monster missed dunks. I’ve endured taunting from the far-too-many Lakers fans and silently gloated at their expense during our far-too-infrequent victories. I’ve fallen in love with an endless string of swingmen from David Benoit to Bryon Russell to Ronnie Brewer to Alec Burks – a list that never, ever included Ronnie Price. I’ve seen a lot of highs and lows and I have loved every single minute of it (or at least the majority of those minutes). The experience of attending a Jazz game is something completely new yet totally familiar, each and every time. I love traditions like grabbing one of the mini-programs or an overpriced/irresistible Dippin’ Dots in the third quarter. I get excited each year when I get to see the pregame montage for the first time. I absolutely love being amongst other fans, even the annoying ones, and enjoying the roller coaster ride of Utah Jazz fandom together. I love going to Jazz games, but there is one part of the game that I absolutely hate. And, boy, do I hate it.
Without fail, at least once (and sometimes, when the basketball gods are really mean, twice) the trampolines and giant pads make their way on to the court. The trampolines and giant pads are accompanied by a handful of Red-Bull chugging, hair-spiking, hyperactive tools (the human kind). What proceeds is an awkward display of misplaced machismo as we, the crowd, are forced to watch these clowns attempt “amazing and death-defying slam dunks” for several excruciating minutes. We get the “behind-the-back” dunk, the “between-the-legs” dunk, and, of course, the “bounce-it-off-the-backboard-five-times-to-your-tool-teammates” dunk. Each and every dunk is followed by animated fist pumping, howling, and some celebratory gesticulation that is supposed to whip we, the crowd “into a frenzy”. Does it work? Perhaps, on a minute level for a certain portion of the crowd. Should I stop complaining about something that is “for the kids”? Maybe. Is it cool? No. Is it stupid? Mmmhmm. Does it need to go? Oh Yeah.
I understand the “for the kids” argument. It’s why I have endured getting silly-stringed by a grown man in a giant costume with a smile on my face. Mascots get a pass. It’s for the kids. The kids are our future fans. Blah Blah Blah. They can have the Bear, Swoop, Cosmo, Bee Man, Goofy, Pluto, and the rest. In fact, I would be happy to watch these furry friends perform trampoline dunks any day of the week. There is at least the appearance of danger and difficulty here. Now before you start commenting how “the Super Trampoline Buddies are very talented” and “you couldn’t do that”, let me answer you. I agree. I can’t do it and I don’t want to do it. But I also don’t want to watch it. How many soccer games have you been to where the halftime entertainment was a bunch of guys kicking beach balls into an empty net and then celebrating like Brandi Chastain? Hopefully, zero. It’s a massive contrast to the competition that makes the game we love so great.
All I am trying to say is that there are much better options available. Put a trampoline on each side of the court and let the guys play two-on-two against each other. Let Jeremy Evans explore his true calling as an entertainment specialist and give his roster spot to one of the more talented and deserved big men on our training camp roster. (Sorry, I had to go there.) Give us more Unicycle Lady! Now there’s some difficulty! Just, please no more trampoline dunkers! Jazz fans have been through enough torture.